Episode 138 – Unstoppable Immigrant and Education Advocate with Alan R. Garcia
Alan R. Garcia was born in Mexico and relocated to New York City with his mother and sister when he was but four years old. His move to the U.S. was memorable as he will explain. It was a year later that his father was able to rejoin the family.
Alan grew up curious about the differences between peoples. He also learned that it is not so much our differences but our similarities that count.
Today, Mr. Garcia works for the Cristo Rey school in Brooklyn. This is one of 30 unique schools around the nation. All I will say is that students that graduate from the schools in the 30 cities across the United States make up a number equal to six times the average for similar populations from other high schools. I am going to let Alan tell the story.
About the Guest:
I was born in Mexico and moved to the United States with my sister and my mother. Given that I was quite young when we made the move, I likely wouldn’t remember the journey if not for how we got here. It was a 7-day Greyhound bus ride from Mexico to New York City. And what made the trip even more memorable was the absence of my father, who could not join us. My first memory of life involves my mother telling me to pack a bag with the most important things I could think of. Naturally, my 4-year-old-self chose the most important thing I owed: my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures. Only one action figure survived the trek: Donatello, the “purple” one. Since those days on the Greyhound, Donatello has been with me, and he is now prominently displayed on the mantle in my living room.
Arriving in New York City was as mesmerizing then as it is to me now. We arrived to Port Authority Bus Terminal, blocks away from Times Square, and travelled the final leg to our new home in the Bronx, where I was to meet my grandfather, an immigrant from Poland. There are many things I had in common with my grandfather, but it’s safe to say my looks weren’t one of them. With my older sister ready to enroll in school and mother going to work, it was my grandfather’s responsibility to look after me. But my grandfather was also a working man. He drove a yellow cab for nearly 50 years. Therefore, his version of “babysitting” didn’t involve morning cartoons (ok, maybe a little bit) and strolls in the park. Rather, I spent a good deal of time in his cab, riding around the city, hearing and watching him engage with thousands of customers. Just imagine: a small, Mexican boy with a middle-aged, Polish man. It was quite the scene!
My father would eventually reunite with us almost a year later, and by the time I knew it, I had everything I could ask for in that cozy 1-bedroom apartment in the Bronx: my family (my sister, my parents, and my maternal grandparents). Money was tight, but our family bond was tighter. It didn’t take long for me to notice that we didn’t have “all the things” other kids had, but we never wanted. Every adult in my home was working (even my grandmother picked up a part-time job at a local bakery), and my mother was the head of the household. Working, raising a family, and earning her bachelor’s degree all at the same time, my mother’s relentless work ethic and unwavering generosity was the ultimate inspiration. To this day, I credit watching her graduate from college as the reason why I became so passionate about education. We were all so proud of her!
Looking back, growing up in a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-national, tri-lingual immigrant family was such a blessing. In many ways, “difference” was all I knew—it was all I was surrounded by. Some nights it was tacos, other nights pierogi, and on occasion Burger King. My grandfather spoke to us in Polish and a heavily accented English, I translated my schoolwork into Spanish for my father, and my mother made it a point to have my sister and I retain our native Spanish and develop perfect fluency in English. At a predominantly white Catholic school, we were the “immigrant kids,” but in the neighborhood were just another ingredient in the melting pot. At home, “difference” was normal, but in the streets of New York City (and beyond), navigating difference has been a whole different story. Yet the common denominator throughout my life has been the values instilled in me as a child: a hard work ethic, a steady faith, and the ability to see opportunity in all things.
By most accounts, I’ve achieved “success” throughout my life. I’ve graduated from some of the most selective, prestigious educational institutions in this country, I am gainfully employed, and I live comfortably with the love of my wife in midtown Manhattan. But the markers for my success are not money or how many things I can acquire. If I am successful, it is because I have paid forward the opportunities I have had and have inspired those around me—particularly future generations—to remain generous in spirit, to work hard, to keep a steady faith, and to see opportunity in all things. It’s interesting, difference is often what prevents people or organizations from interacting with someone/something new, but I believe it is what life is all about. Our differences are what make us unique and, when we share our differences with each other, we learn we actually have more in common than we originally thought.
Ways to connect with Alan:
Link to my LinkedIn page: (4) Alan R. Garcia | LinkedIn
Link to my GoFundMe page: https://gofund.me/6f090f1d
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:21
Well, Greetings once again. I am Michael Hingson. And you are listening to unstoppable mindset. I want to thank you for being here today. I hope that you enjoy what we get to talk about we are talking with Alan Garcia, who has a very interesting story in a lot of ways to talk about. Alan is still in New York, right?
Alan Garcia 01:43
Michael Hingson 01:43
there ya go in New York City. We’re in New York City.
Alan Garcia 01:47
I’m in Manhattan. Ah, perfect.
Michael Hingson 01:50
Well, Alan, welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Alan Garcia 01:53
Thanks for having me. This is exciting.
Michael Hingson 01:56
Well, so let’s get right into it. I’d love to learn a little bit about you maybe growing up and talking about your, your childhood. And I know you have quite a story to tell. So I’m just gonna let you go to it.
Alan Garcia 02:07
All right. Thanks, Michael. So yeah, the story begins, my earliest waking memories, if you will, are on a Greyhound bus ride from a small little town in central Mexico, all the way here to New York City. So I was born in Mexico, in the town of Gambero, which is a small rustic town, four hours north of Mexico City. So right smack dab in the middle of the country. And my mother happened to be born here in New York. So she grew up here. But when she was a teenager, her parents split up. So her mother is Mexican Mexican descent. And her father, my grandfather is an immigrant from Poland. So when they split up, my mother was was spending a lot of time back and forth between the two countries as a kid as a teenager. And so when she became an adult, at the age of 18, she decided to leave New York City well for what she thought at the time was for good. And moved to Mexico. And my sister was born there. I was born there. But fast forward. It’s my sister was was seven years old. I was four years old, 1994, North American Free Trade Agreement hits Canada, the United States and Mexico. And my parents had a small business. You could think of it as the intermediary between farmers and market. So kind of the middle, the middle, the middle of that, that part of the business. And my parents were very young, I had children very young, that married very young, maybe a little bit over in over their heads as far as the amount of responsibility. But NAFTA, actually caused my parents business to go bankrupt. Inflation hit Mexico very hard. It was good for big business, but not necessarily for the little guy. So my parents decided to put whatever resources they had left together. And we could afford three bus tickets, three coach bus tickets, one way tickets from Mexico to New York. And my father could not come with us at the time. And
Michael Hingson 04:34
because you couldn’t afford the force ticket,
Alan Garcia 04:37
we couldn’t afford it. But there was also some issues with this paperwork to be honest with you, Michael. At the time, the government, both the American government and the Mexican government were trying to really clamp down on folks leaving Mexico and fleeing the inflation and the economic turmoil. The violence and the drug cartels at the time had gotten a hold of a lot of businesses. You know, opening up the markets did a lot in terms of opening up the both the legal trade and the illegal trade. Yeah. So, so even so my mother’s right, she’s born here in New York. So she’s an American citizen. There’s many things I’ll never be able to repay my mother for. And one of them is the fact that when my sister and I were born in Mexico, my mother filed for dual citizenship for my sister and I. And so my sister and I legally have a consular Birth Abroad. And she figured that if all if nothing else, our citizenship is the most valuable thing. We have our dual citizenship. So the government did not think that my life put it this way. The government thought my parents were married under nefarious circumstances, they thought my father married my mother for citizenship, which was not the case. My father never became an American citizen. And so he could not come with us and to to avoid sort of any legal troubles. My mother said, hey, I’ll take the kids to New York, take them to the grandfather’s home in the Bronx. And we’ll start from scratch there. We either we start from scratch in Mexico because we’re bankrupt. Or we’ll start from scratch in New York in the land of milk and honey, so to speak. where the streets are paved in gold, as they say, and the kids will start there. So it was a week long bus ride. We ended up riding Time Square, midtown Manhattan Port Authority Bus Terminal, took the the one train the local and still to this day, very local one train Yes. Up to the Bronx. And it’s funny, Michael, I remember my mother vividly before we left Mexico said Alan, pack, the most important thing you can think of we don’t have a lot of space, small little toddler sized bookbag. And of course, the most important thing at the time for me were my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures was the most important thing I could think of. And it’s interesting on my mantel, here in my living room to this day, I have one of the four action figures left. It’s Donald Telo, aka the purple turtle, he made the journey and he’s been with me literally my entire waking life. Dude. That’s right. And so you know, we show up in the Bronx. And I would I would learn years later, Michael, that my mother was very weary of telling her father that we were coming back. If you could think about it, when she left at 18 years old, to go start a family and my father, my grandfather was very upset and disappointed. So she said well, that the greatest leverage I have is his grandchildren. He can’t say no to and of course, he did not. So he welcomed us with open arms. And we settled in there in the Bronx, in his one bedroom apartment. When about a year without my father. My mother was very intentional about us, keeping in touch with him. But again, this is 9495 and a long distance phone call to Mexico. Quite expensive. Those days. So I remember on Sunday evenings, late night, my mother would would huddle with my sister on the phone and leave us about maybe 10 minutes to speak to him. And she would show us a picture while we were talking to him so we could visualize what he looked like. She didn’t want us to forget what he looked like given particularly me that I was I was I was younger. And so this voice that I would hear on Sunday nights, she would say, Alan, that’s your father. That voice that you that that ominous voice you hear on Sunday evenings is your father. And then sure enough, but a year later, we would reunite he actually went to Los Angeles first, he had some friends there a potential job. My mother flew us out to go see him. And naturally I thought he worked at Disneyland. And my father said, no, no, I don’t work here. This is not what I remember the Lion King and the Simba parade. And he said no, I thought my dad was the coolest guy ever. And I still think that but at the time, I thought wow, this is so much nicer than the cold and bitterness of New York City. But my mother said no, you have to come back to New York with us. And my father, if you could imagine Michael he had never really met his father in law, right. My grandfather was his prospect was I’ll show up to New York City with no job and had to support my family and live on in my father in law’s one bedroom apartment bomb and on his couch trying to raise his grandchildren and be the husband to his daughter. So my father had to swallow his pride and and do what my mother thought was the best for us. And so we all move back and, and then my estranged grandmother like my grandfather’s wife, who they had separated in the mid 80s. She got wind of this she He was living in Mexico, and she moved back to New York. So all six of us by 1995, reunited in my grandfather’s one bedroom apartment in the Bronx. And although at the time, I’m sure from my parents from my grandparents, a very overwhelming proposition. For me as a young child, I had everything I could ever want. I had my family, my parents, my grandparents, my sister, yeah. Everybody working to make ends meet. Everybody pitching in to turn, you know, frowns into smiles and to make sure my sister and I never wanted. We didn’t have much. My grandfather drove a yellow cab in New York City for 50 years.
Michael Hingson 10:42
Where was he from originally.
Alan Garcia 10:44
So he’s from Poland. There you go another immigrant. And he passed away a few years ago. But he grew up in hiding in Nazi occupied Poland during the Second World War. And so when, when the war ended, and Soviet Union came in, he was a bit of a troublemaker, he was not a big fan of communism, or the communist and his his mother, my great grandmother would always fear that his outspokenness would get them in trouble. So she basically disowned him. When he was a teenager. He was about 17. And she said, you’re gonna get us all in trouble. We did so much to just survive the war. Why can’t you just shut your trap and do what you’re told. But that’s not that’s not the type of man he was. So he left his native land, emigrated to New York, you know, the whole Ellis Island story from London, to New York. And so it’s interesting for me growing up in an immigrant household. You know, I have my immigrant story, my sister as well. My mother is technically not an immigrant, but was straddling two worlds her whole life. My father is an immigrant, and my grandfather, very heavy Polish accent, I mean, a prototypical middle aged Polish man, by the time I met him, and, and he and I looked very, very different. We sounded different, we had very different last names. And as a kid, I spent a lot of my time in his yellow cab driving around the city. I mean, that was his version of babysitting. It was Alan let’s let’s go to work. So spent a lot of really good memories in the front seat of his cab and hearing him talk to whoever got in this cab and share stories and, and find commonality. I mean, you step into a cab, you never know who’s gonna get in and store you’re gonna hear so just the way he was able to laugh and joke and, and ultimately get a perhaps more generous tip out of his, his business. It was it was for me, looking back, there was so much difference in my childhood between language and cuisine, and customs, and, and just trying to assimilate differences very normalized. For me. I mean, no one, no one, no adults in my life, were intentional about teaching us about difference, I think it was just so organic, and part of our survival, that looking back, it was a real blessing to be in a trilingual, multi ethnic, multinational household and have to navigate those spaces. I remember as a kid, my father, going to parent teacher conferences at school when I’m in elementary school, and he didn’t really understand English. So I’d have to translate for him what the teachers were saying. And then when we got home, my grandfather who was fluent in English polish, but he didn’t know any Spanish, despite being married to a Mexican woman in his younger days, he would talk about me with my report cards. And I would have to translate to my father what my grandfather was saying, and vice versa, I would have to translate to my grandfather, what my father was trying to tell me in Spanish. And so my mother was very insistent on us learning multiple languages, keeping our native tongues, and to be honest with you, Michael, she didn’t want my sister to speak with an accent. She had seen some some of the bullying or some of the teasing that can happen both in Mexico and in New York when that happens. And so she wanted us to speak fluent English, but but also not forget quote, unquote, where we came from. And again, all these things were just organic, they weren’t explicit lessons. They were taught to us and looking back the career I’ve had as an educator or just a citizen of, of the city of this country of this world. I think it was a huge blessing in disguise.
Michael Hingson 14:41
Well, it’s interesting, you. You describe something I’ve heard so many times, even from other people who immigrated to the United States and talking about their families. It’s the values it’s the mindset that parents have that really teaches and taught you so many things, one to valuate, you had to remember where you came from, to understand that it’s okay to be different. And that we’re all part of the same world. But that you can go from a really hard time and a real time of hardship to things being better. I was thinking, you came to New York on a bus, you didn’t have any money, but within a year, your mother was able to fly you all out to Los Angeles to see your father. And that immediately made me think, well, he earned enough money or not you but your family earned enough money to be able to do that. So clearly, there was some rightness in that decision. And I and I think your parents were probably people who wouldn’t forget all the realities and the value that moving to America brought. But all the value that where you came from taught them and you to be able to thrive, and be better people for it.
Alan Garcia 16:11
Oh, certainly. Oh, certainly. I mean, from a young age, I mean, even to this day, having a strong work ethic, was the universal language. You know, and I say I say that tongue in cheek, because there were multiple languages spoken around in our in our household, but my father was working, you know, jobs. My mother not only was working, as soon as she got back to New York, she was going to college. And so I saw my mother graduate from college when I was in fourth grade. And again, that normalized for me, oh, I guess when you’re older, and you look like my parents, you just go to school, right as an adult. And so I remember my sister and I, our routine was we walked to school together, we get out of school, we’re putting the after school program. My mother picks us up. She worked in a banking and finance and so at a local branch by our elementary school, we would close down the branch with her 5:36pm, Eastern, we’d go home, have a little snack break, and then we would attend her night classes for you for years. And so she went to Manhattan College, a local college, but where we grew up in the Bronx, and she would come into the college with her two kids. And she would say, hey, Alan, Lilly, that’s my sister’s name, sit in the library or sit in the hallway. And if you have homework to do just, you know, get to it. And I’ll answer any questions when I’m done. We wouldn’t get out of there until 8:39pm, we’d get home, we’d have another snack, my mother would help us with our homework. And we’d repeat, wash, rinse, repeat every day. And so it was very, you know, very, very routine, heavy. A lot of rituals, if you will, every now and then, my mother built a really nice rapport with with her professors and her classmates. And they were always so intrigued that she had these little kids. So well behaved in the college. And so sometimes we would be able to peek into a classroom or get a tour of, of a space on college. And, again, Michael, looking back, what a blessing that I’m 789 years old, and I have exposure to a college campus. I’ve exposure to a professional workplace where my mom is, you know, working. And I remember, I looked at my friend’s parents and ever said, man, every parent does this. And sure enough, that wasn’t the case. But again, that was normalized for me. And my grandfather, right working 1516 hour days in a cab, even my grandmother, she was working part time at a bakery in the neighborhood, and you’re the coolest kid in the neighborhood, and you can walk into a bakery and get free cookies. So it was I mean, now that I’m an adult, obviously, and I’m older, and I can really see this with different perspective. Everybody working to make ends meet everybody pitching in. Again, to make sure my sister and I a never wanted but also saw that life is about working hard and and doing it together and reaping the benefits of that. So that really was the universal language to your point about about values and and a work ethic.
Michael Hingson 19:20
But there was also a lot of love. And that is something that clearly surrounded you and your sister, but that was created in that whole family environment.
Alan Garcia 19:33
Oh, yeah. I mean, it was. So you mentioned love and I think about my older sister and she was she was older than you know, she’s older than me. So she’s really seen everything first in this country, right? She’s going to school before me. She seeing the middle school years before me. She’s entering adolescence before me and I remember from a young age she would come home, especially when I was little younger and spending more time with my grandfather, my sister was Alan. You know, the kids in the neighborhood are gonna say what different, they’re gonna say we’re not from here. So talk about this, these are the cool things to talk about. Or I’ll give you another funny example. My mother would make pick our lunch, right in the morning is most mothers do. And in the beginning, she was packing us some leftovers from the night before, right to save money. And we did not have a school cafeteria where we went to school. So you’re eating normally things that your parents prepare for you. And my mother would pack some leftover Mexican food, and the kids would tease my sister, my sister for it, or what is that? You know, it smells kind of funky things like that. And my sister would come and say, Mom, please don’t pack Alan with that lunch, he’s gonna get made fun of for it, pack them something called a turkey and cheese. And I was like, What’s a turkey and cheese. So my sister was, you know, in her own way, trying to protect me and kind of, to your point, love, love me and in a new way, that she didn’t want me to go through some of the hardships she went through. And I guess I’ll never be able to repair in a sense for those things. But, but then my family saying, Okay, I guess, you know, we’re gonna have to change the way we do things to give Alan and Lilia a different, maybe even better experience and we had as kids. And so there’s a lot of love that goes into that. You know, my parents, God bless them that they’ve never been the parents to say, oh, you know, we did it this way. So you have to do it this way. Or the prototypical back in my day, right? My parents got married really young, relative to my sister and I, they’re still relatively young. So their whole philosophy has been Who are we to judge you and tell you how to live when the whole world doubted us? Right? The whole world never thought we’d make it to this country in the first place. So a lot of love and humility goes into that.
Michael Hingson 21:58
Did you get treated? In any different way? Were you bullied? Or were you? Did you look different enough or in any way where you consider Nona and your sister on? And you’re referring to it a little bit? But were you different enough that it really ended up being a significant problem? Or did Lux have anything to do with any of that?
Alan Garcia 22:20
Yeah, it was definitely there. I grew up. And if you ask any of my childhood friends, there were no Mexican families in our neighborhood. In that particular area of the Bronx, we stood out like sore thumb. No Mexican families, few few few folks of Hispanic, Latino descent generally. And so we did stick out. Again, we spoke a different language amongst each other than then most of the kids spoke in the neighborhood. So that that that was definitely noticed. And just being immigrants, generally, you know, the proverbial you’re, you’re not from here, go back to where you came from those kinds of things. It just, you know, happen in the playground or amongst kids. And that that’s, you know, the true test of you know, what, when I think about assimilation, it’s, it’s, it’s somewhat necessary. It’s a good thing. It’s valuable if you’re able to cultivate yourself to where you are, but it was a teaching opportunity to for the folks that cared enough, and that didn’t tease you to appreciate where you’re from, and why are you different? And why do you why do you eat those things? And what language are you talking to you, Alan, you’re talking this one thing to your grandfather and this other thing to your father and make that and help that help me make sense of that. So
Michael Hingson 23:38
talking out of both sides of your mouth, yeah.
Alan Garcia 23:41
You know, it’s tacos one day, it’s pierogi. Another day. Both are good. And both are good. So, you know, definitely, there was some teasing bullying. And so then it becomes Okay. At home, it’s about values and finding a universal language amongst peers in the playground. What does that look like? And for me, sports was actually a really an equalizer. You know, growing up in New York City, you play basketball, that’s just the thing you play. You play basketball, you get on the blacktop in the summer. And basketball was an avenue, where it didn’t matter what I sounded like, it didn’t matter what I looked like if you could perform on the court that gave you street cred. And that gave you confidence. Now, it’s funny because most kids thought, oh, Alan, you should play soccer, right? Because you’re from Mexico or what do you you don’t belong on a basketball court. So you have a chip on your shoulder. And it’s funny, my father growing up in the 80s he was all about the Showtime Lakers. Kareem James worthy. So he was you know, a talented athlete as a younger man. Certainly soccer was his first love but he loved all sports. And so he noticed right away. Soccer is not going to be the thing that that allows that Ellen’s make a lot of friends now Sara Lee, so let me teach them basketball. And I remember on weekends going to the park with him and using that as a springboard when I was on my own, to burn my chops, so to speak on the basketball court, and between you and me, because I was a pretty talented basketball. I was gonna ask
Michael Hingson 25:17
you that I was. Well, that is that is cool. Right? So yeah, you went into high school and you got involved and more of that stuff. And I guess, earn enough street cred earn enough credibility and enough respect that you you made it through reasonably unscathed.
Alan Garcia 25:36
Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly right. I think between that. And I would say thanks, most, mostly to my mother, if not anything, being a good student. And, of course, it’s funny, you know, there’s this there’s this paradox in the inner cities of being, or maybe it’s not exclusive to the inner cities by any means. But what I saw, really magnified was, if you’re good at school, you’re a nerd, right? If you’re good at school, you’re smart, and you’re not cool, etc. But because I was a good athlete, because I had a good core group of friends and a loving family. For me, being smart was cool. There was accolades to it, there was recognition for it. And again, as as the quote unquote, outsider, I was defying a lot of folks stereotypes of what people like me look like, we’re supposed to be right, lazy, you’re not good at school, and, and so to be good at school was, was part of that chip on your shoulder to say, hey, just because my last name is this, or I’ll give you a very humbling example, Michael, when my parents couldn’t afford the tuition for the Catholic school. Each month, when you can’t afford the tuition, you don’t get your textbooks, and you don’t get your report card. It’s held from you until your family is able to pay tuition. And so I remember not being able to get my textbooks on time or get my report cards on time. But my friends would say, hey, Alan, why don’t you come over to our place for you know, play date, hang out, and I have the book. So you can you can study with us. And so that was an avenue to make friends. And so getting, quote unquote good at school was a way to get acceptance.
Michael Hingson 27:19
It’s interesting that the mindset was though, if you don’t pay your bills on time, even though you might eventually be able to do it, and probably would be eventually able to do it. You don’t get your textbooks in a sense, I can see withholding the report card. But that’s a pretty interesting punishment. So you can’t have your textbooks and essentially, you can’t learn very strange teaching attitude, coming from an educational and teaching background somewhat today, but that’s too bad. Things like that occur.
Alan Garcia 27:53
That’s that’s mid 90s. Inner City. Education for you the school of hard knocks.
Michael Hingson 27:59
There you go. So what did you do after high school? So yeah, so after high
Alan Garcia 28:05
school, or even when I was thinking about college, it’s funny. My mom and I are so alike in many ways that we butt heads, right? I’m sure you’ve heard that before. It’s like two magnets just just repelling each other. She and I are very close. We’re attached in many ways. And she wanted me to stay here in New York City for college. She couldn’t fathom me leaving and her baby, right all that language. So I didn’t even give myself the option. Michael, I did not apply to a single college within a two and a half hour radius of New York City. I wanted to branch out explore. It wasn’t like me to be honest. I’m actually I’m was a shy person. I’ve become more outspoken and outgoing. But as a kid, I was pretty reserved, kept my head down, right type of thing. When I say you know what, I gotta use this opportunity to branch out. So my college guidance counselor, she’s sent kinda like a guardian angel to me. She really helped me apply to colleges. All I knew was Manhattan College, where my mom went and a lot of where my friends were applying. So she said, Allen, I think there’s a school in upstate New York, Cornell University, be a great fit for you. It’s funny, though, I was very interested, obviously, sports and sports journalism at the time. So I said, said, Miss Ross, it’s her name. I said, Is it like a like a city? And do they have sports? And she said, it’s a city and the college chest. So, you know, my ignorance was was her advantage. I applied to the school got into the school without ever seeing it without ever going, knowing anyone who ever went there. But she knew better than I did. And so I went to Cornell, and it was rough in the beginning. I’ll be honest with you, Michael, if you take a city kid and put them in upstate New York, there was culture shock, as as street savvy as I was, and it’s sort of streetsmart as I consider myself, I was a fish out of water. I didn’t like it, it was eerie on almost the silence. And the lack of people and the lack of noise was not interesting to me at the time. But it ended up being the greatest thing for me both personally and sort of pre professionally, just getting out of my comfort zone, doing a lot of things that I had never really grown up doing meeting folks from all over the world. Competing in the sense of folks on the on a different level, I went to a very, very academically rigorous private high school in New York City. And so the academics were actually not that much of a challenge. There was more How do I get to know different types of people? How do they get them to know me? And I’ll share a quick funny story with you when I was rushing fraternities. That’s a big thing up there in Ithaca, Cornell, we read this gathering. And the icebreaker was, what’s the best birthday gift you ever had as a kid? And I remember saying, Oh, my video game console, my Nintendo 64 and Domino’s Pizza party, with my friends. And I thought that was pretty neat. And this one other peer of mine. His was stocks that his uncle had given him as Bar Mitzvah. And I said, What do you mean stocks? And he said, Oh, yeah, you know, I got the stocks and compound interest, and they appreciate value. And by the time I graduate college, and I’m ready to purchase a home, and I was like, wait a minute, mine is video games and Domino’s Pizza, and yours is stock. And it was such a to this day. It’s so vivid for me because I said, How are we the same age? We’re both at Cornell University. But you you think and operate on such a different plane? Not just now but your whole childhood? And young adulthood is has? What conversations were you having? And and what is your outlook on life compared to mine? And that was so groundbreaking for me, Michael? Because I said, Hmm, I need some more of that. I need to know how you’re operating how you’re thinking. Because that’s a world I don’t know. You know, my parents have no investment portfolio to speak of, heck, my grandfather, you know, cash business driving a cat, I don’t know what that means. So, college was really eye opening, and so many levels. The classes were great, the academics were cool, and all that. But it was more than the networking and the people aspect and learning how different folks operate that really, really set me up for success.
Michael Hingson 32:47
So what did you learn from that when he said stocks and so on? How did you then deal with that going forward?
Alan Garcia 32:54
Yeah. I mean, I had interesting conversations with my family about hey, how are we investing in in building multi generational wealth? You know, to my parents, Hey, are you thinking about your your pension or Social Security or investments or rainy day funds or passive income, it was just conversations and language that, again, going back to the earlier part, my parents were doing so much just to get by and survive and, and put us in a position they didn’t. There’s no 25th hour in the day, think about all those other things. So it was really up to me to generate those conversations and think about those things. And then, as soon as I became gainfully employed and put myself in a position, I said, I’m going to be you know, obviously, my sister and I are going to be that that first generation that really starts to set up our family for success. And so it’s, it’s led to a lot of, you know, intentional planning and, and heck, we’re not perfect, and we’re still trying to make it. But it just introduced even my parents and the limited small amount of family I have in this country that we have to we have to do have to think different. We have to operate different, you know, huge kudos to my parents and all the feminine goddess here. But there’s so much more to learn so much more to take advantage of so much more for us to absorb. And it was my kind of small way of paying back if you will.
Michael Hingson 34:16
What are your parents think about all that?
Alan Garcia 34:19
Oh, man. Again, they’re the best. They they’re so supportive. They continue to nudge me in all the right ways. And I remember when I graduate from high school, my father said to me, Alan, I’m um, this is the greatest one of the greatest gifts he’s ever given me today, Alan, you’re better and smarter man than I am. And I kind of looked at him confused. I said, I’m only 18 I’m barely I haven’t achieved anything. And what do you mean, I’m smarter than you? You’ve given me so much advice and, and wisdom. He said, No, no, I mean, I’ll always be your dad. And I’ll always have advice to give you but what you’re doing, what you’re accomplishing what you’re going to accomplish. She’s more than I could ever do more than I’ll ever do. And you should, you should take that to heart, you should know that you can do anything. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t you’re you’re already proving, with so many people in Mexico, even family doubted what so many, you know, friends are quote unquote, adversaries of yours as a kid doubted. And you’re a better man than me for it. My father never knew his father. And so that was, I don’t even know my paternal grandfather, I’ve never seen a picture of him don’t know his name. And so my father is really learning how to be a dad this whole time and, and it was almost a little bit of a passing of the torch, say you’re, you’re gonna bring honor to the Garcia name in a way that it’s for him it was Shane his whole life. And so he said, you’re going to, you’re going to put your honor to that last name and make it mean something that has stuck with me to this day.
Michael Hingson 35:51
And, and it should, it’s, it also says a lot about him and how he, he values you. And again, it goes in the immediate reaction that I have is it goes back to love. And there’s just so much that you guys get to share, which is so great. I never knew my paternal grandfather, my father was orphaned. I don’t know exactly how young but by 12 he was and he lived on his own. And he didn’t join the Boy Scouts, there was another program called the lone scouts that was a spin off of the scouting program. And he was part of that. And then later, he was a sheep herder. He was a cowboy in Washington State and did other things. He was born in Oklahoma, but moved around and then eventually joined the military. And went in the military. One of the other people around him, got him writing to this other guy’s sister in law. And when the war was over, he went home and he married my mom. And so that the other guy was was named Sam. So where I actually had an uncle Sam. So it was kind of cool. But you know, the value, I think that so often parents in the past have put that value on. And I think there’s a lot that I wish more people would learn today about the kind of love and the kinds of things that you’re talking about here. You talk a lot about navigating the differences in life. Tell me more about what that means and why that’s important.
Alan Garcia 37:33
Yeah, so again, it’s part of my lived experience. It’s it’s how I almost it’s my worldview, you know, where I see differences opportunity. I see it is what makes life interesting and exciting is learning about our differences. Learning about everyone has their own journey. Everyone has their own unique past. And it can be a little daunting to to meet new folks or share something about yourself with others. But if you’re able to have a welcoming demeanor about you, and if you’re able to have the courage and bravery to, to ask questions to be curious, I have I have found that through that process, we realize we’re actually more likely to different. And it’s those differences that make for a pleasant conversation and an enduring relationship. It’s through its through that that we’ve mentioned, then find commonality. So it’s my worldview, it’s my outlook. It’s rooted in how I grew up. And it’s, it’s part of my professional outlook on life, my career as an educator, my philosophy of teaching and learning, but then also in my, in my personal life. My wife is from Bangladesh, and she’s Muslim. I grew up Catholic and a kid from from Mexico. So even in my personal life, I’ve always just been intrigued by folks of different backgrounds and their and their journeys. And it’s, it’s, it’s made life worthwhile.
Michael Hingson 39:02
Same God. That’s right. More people would recognize that still the same God.
Alan Garcia 39:09
That’s right. That’s right. Well,
Michael Hingson 39:12
you know, I’m, I was thinking, I’ve spent a fair amount of time around New York, I’ve not spent a lot of time in places like Harlem and so on. But in the starting in the late Sep, well, in the mid 70s. And then, for many years, I did spend a lot of time around New York and I had no fear or concern about walking around. I mean, of course, there are always some crazy people. But, but I felt that if people started accosting me or started treating me in not a good way, it was as much perhaps my behavior that caused them to do that. I go back to the whole idea that you know, animals can sense fear. And if you’re not afraid of animals and you and you, Project loves you, they’re not going to bother you, like animals will, if you’re afraid of them. And people are the same way they can sense how you are. And I personally enjoy talking with people, and I don’t care who they are. And I know I’ve talked to some, probably pretty rough people. But you know, it’s okay. Because I consider them people. Now, one of the things that did happen to me in New York a few times is I would leave the hotel I was staying at when I was back there doing sales and so on. And these people, they got to know me, they came up and they said, We’re part of the guardian angels, we’ll take care of you and make sure you don’t have any problems. And I said, Look, I don’t, I’m not gonna have any problems. It’s not a big deal. They wanted to walk with me anyway. And I let them but you know, the, the thing is that, I believe that we are really a reflection of how people are going to treat us if we, if we hate, that’s gonna rub off. And people are gonna sense that if we love that’s going to rub off and people are going to sense it. And I would much prefer the latter to the former. And I’ve found always that it was pleasant to to be around people, no matter who they were. And I’ve met some homeless people who I’m sure were pretty rough people. But, you know, we were all part of the same race of people. That’s right.
Alan Garcia 41:23
Yeah, I’m with you. There. I’m with you there. And, and it’s, if we can have the courage and bravery to, on the one hand, we’ll both be a little vulnerable. But then also welcome folks. Where they’re where they are on their journey. I have found that more often than not to be pretty pleasant interaction.
Michael Hingson 41:41
Yeah. Well, what did you do after college? So you went to Cornell? You didn’t go into hotel management or any of those things up there? That’s okay. No, no. Yeah. Yeah, for a good break.
Alan Garcia 41:56
Yeah, the hoteles as they’re called. Yeah, that no, that was not my path. I actually I was I was studying sports journalism and communication media studies. But I was minoring in education, and then sort of the the formal. Everything from the history of formal education in this country, how it came about to the financing to different educational models, Montessori public, emerging charter schools, charter schools are really hot at that time. Some of the biggest charter school networks were just beginning to pop up in the major cities. And it was really through understanding or trying to understand the systemic inequity that’s been built in to our public education system, but then even lack of access to private education, and even how things like real estate and redlining and all these other sort of socio economic factors contribute to education, that blew my mind, because I looked back at my own story. And by that time, I was well versed in the fact that I was a statistical anomaly. And, you know, the odds of a quote unquote, kid like me, making it to a quote unquote, place, or places like I did that was was slim. But never let that limit my my, my belief that it can be more common, more people can do it. And so I pursued Graduate Studies in Education at the University of Pennsylvania graduate school there, got my master’s in education, really, really kind of a deep dive into into, why are things the way they are? And seeing things from an assets based approach? So not so much, okay, why don’t things work? You know, that that’s been documented and well versed. But given the circumstances that we know exist, that contribute to why certain demographics or certain sectors of the population don’t achieve? Who are the young people that even in those spaces in those circumstances are succeeding? So how do they find a way? How are the schools or the quote unquote, village, if you will, producing enough success, in spite of or despite the traditional barriers? And then can we replicate what works? So it’s one thing to avoid what doesn’t? But can we systematize and create it sort of philosophies of thinking and then operationalize the stuff that does? So as part of a really interesting research team, this is 2013. We were actually contracted by the New York City Department of Education. It was a team of 12 graduate researchers, led by our professor Dr. Shaun Harper, who’s now at USC, and the DOE contracted us to examine 40 Title One Paul like high schools in New York City, and interview what ended up being over 400 Black and Latino male students, that is a demographic that historically has the lowest levels of high school graduation College, matriculation, graduating college within six years, all these all these statistics, and we know well, but these 40, schools found ways to graduate this particular demographic, above the national rate, and then through their Alumni Services, track them through college and find that they were actually graduating from college again, above the national rate when compared to peers of their same socioeconomic status. So he said, Okay, these schools are finding a way to do it, these young men are doing it. So we studied that we produced a whole report for the doe. And it was interesting, because we call the study, finding ourselves, all of the researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, myself included, were black and Latino men, and from all parts of the country, but we just happened to be studying the same university. And so we were in a way, rediscovering the younger version of ourselves, and finding a way to produce a report and produce a list of recommendations that New York City could follow. And any other major sort of urban city could follow and say, Hey, these are the schools that are doing it. This is how they’re doing it, this, how they’re staffing it, this is how they’re building their class schedules. These are the additional and requisite supports that this particular demographic is receiving. And then even after they graduate from college, this is what the schools are doing in the post secondary space. And that was really neat for me, because I’m studying in Philly, at Penn. But every week, we were traveling to New York City and doing this study. So it was a way for me to stay close to home in a way. And that really, I caught the bug there of both being a practitioner in a sense, being in schools on a weekly basis, but then also doing the research. And I said, Hey, I I want to make a career out of this. I found that just through sharing my story and and providing families with nothing revolutionary Michael, just access to information and pathways that they otherwise didn’t have access to or wasn’t made. You know, it wasn’t made simple enough for them to to understand. I could really do something here. And so that’s what I did after college. And then I pursued a career in education formally after that.
Michael Hingson 47:29
I definitely want to hear a little bit more about that and and what you’re doing now, but I’m curious about something just because I’m not as knowledgeable about as I probably would love to be. But tell me more about what you think about the whole concept of charter schools and where they fit into the world. Are they? Are they more of a blessing or not?
Alan Garcia 47:48
Yeah, I think unfortunately, charter schools, and that question has, has produced a knee jerk either. Yes, yeah, sir. And I think there’s more more nuanced there. Because I’m for family choice and families having options, right? Historically, if you’re zoned to your local public school, depending on your zip code, and that school is overcrowded, or it’s under resourced, or you just want your child to go somewhere else that was very, very limiting. In the late 90s, early 2000s, the beginning of voucher programs and families having to apply for vouchers and have a little bit of school choice. We’re well behind in in families, understanding how to navigate that system. So charter schools, allow families to do that. Now the lottery, right? So it’s not guaranteed, but it still gives them choices. And I’m all for family choice. I think that’s a good thing. Generally, the culture that sometimes charter schools but not exclusive to charter schools is by design a little bit more more rigid, perhaps a little bit more accountability than your traditional public school, or maybe even a private in a secular or parochial school. And I think they sometimes get a bad rap. Because there there’s private funding in charter schools, and they model sort of more business oriented approach to to pedagogy and learning. And I think it’s just it’s it straddles that world between we want to offer families choice, but this is going to look and feel different than what most parents went to as a kid because the charter schools weren’t around. I mean, now you’re starting to see the first ever second generation charter school families. But it because it’s just a little foreign, and it’s not. Again, what we did back in my day, right if you’re a parent, that can be some resistance to it. But I any school, whether your charter, public, or traditional public records, charters, particularly public schools, or private, you’re gonna have good educators. You’re gonna have bad educators. You’re gonna Good teachers, you’re gonna have bad teachers. Yeah, it’s across the board, we need to train our teachers better train. And that’s that’s actually what my master’s thesis at Penn was about. It was, how antiquated our teacher training and preparation programs are, and how they’re not immersive enough. And then you do all that work, you go to higher ed, you get a graduate degree, you’re putting yourself now and astronomical debt. And at least in New York City, your starting salary is 40,000. And but you’re what you’re tasked with with the world. And I saw that paradox when I was at Cornell, and I told a lot of my friends or my particularly my friend’s parents, oh, I’m gonna go into education. And they were all so bummed out, Michael. They looked at me said all Alan, you wasted your Cornell education, oh, gee, you’re gonna go into teaching? Oh, what a bummer. And I said to myself, How ironic is this, that all of these parents here, because I was on scholarship at Cornell, I didn’t want my parents any debt. All these parents are at that time, accruing probably a quarter million dollars of student loans and debt, so that their kids can have the best teachers and the best credentials. But God forbid, someone who’s well credentialed wants to go into education. Right? It never made sense to me. So many parents want their kids to go to these Ivy League schools top to your private schools, and they look at where the edges, the teachers, all you went to Princeton, you’d went to Williams, you went to Columbia, wow. That’s where I want my kids to go to school. But God forbid, someone like me, chooses to go to education and not a career in finance, or business management or healthcare. Be a doctor, oh, Alan, you wasted it. And I would push back to my parents, and sorry, my friend’s parents and, and folks that thought about that. Because I want the philosophy around what it means to be an educator in this country to be held in high esteem, and guard, it starts there, it starts with that attitude. If we don’t have that, then how are we going to hold our educators accountable? And how are they going to feel really proud of what they do.
Michael Hingson 52:01
And that was, what I was actually going to get to is that. The other part of it is, besides training, and really giving teachers all the training that they should have, is giving teachers all the support that they should have, and truly being involved in your child’s education, and in the educational system, because our future really depends on it, but people don’t do that.
Alan Garcia 52:30
Exactly. We don’t. And so that’s that’s sort of when I get on my pulpit and, and try and get folks this all across the board, from kids to parents and my colleagues to folks outside of the education space proper. To think more about how we view education, generally, your I have often found you talk to anyone and say, Hey, what are some influential people in your life, somewhere in their top five will be a teacher, sometimes I will be an educator, and I’ll say to them, yeah, that same, you know, regard you have for that person, that that same love you have for that person Majan if you had that for all your teachers, and in turn the educators in that space would learn to, to feel more appreciated to feel like you know, both of them have just a purely economic perspective, but then also the esteem that comes with with the position, if we’re just seen as a kind of a backup job or something that Oh, you didn’t cut it elsewhere. It’s you became a teacher, that’s not helping anybody
Michael Hingson 53:30
know when it’s not true. Right? I’m very blessed that one of my top five people is a teacher. He was my sophomore geometry teacher, and we stay in touch. He’s 86, I went to his birthday and surprised him when he turned 80. He came to my wife’s than my wedding 40 years ago, now over 40 years ago. And, you know, I, I’ve always enjoyed him and so many other teachers I was blessed with with good teachers. And then when I was at University of California, Irvine, and in graduate school, I also got my secondary teaching credential. So I went through the school of education there, and Ken Bailey and the the people at the school were, were great. And they gave me a lot of opportunity and didn’t care that I happened to be blind. And that was great if they cared, it never showed to me. But I got to be a student teacher at a local high school, teaching, physics and math and had great master teachers as well. And I’ve got to say, I just have nothing but praise for the whole concept of teaching. And my belief is that we all are teachers anyway, and people are always asking me about being blind. Well, I’m a teacher, right? And I shouldn’t resent or take offence at people asking questions and don’t I’d rather take the time to answer questions and to Each for most of my adult life, I was in sales. And I believe that good salespeople, real salespeople are teachers. And they’re also learners, because the good salesperson might suddenly recognize my product isn’t what this customer needs. And sometimes it’s tough to make the ethical choice to say to the customer, this isn’t gonna work for you, but here’s what will. But the reality is it will always come back. If you are open and honest and gain someone’s trust. It’ll come back to support you in the end.
Alan Garcia 55:33
100%. Yeah, I couldn’t agree more.
Michael Hingson 55:37
Yeah. And so I, I really am just always so frustrated when I hear a lot of things going on with teachers. I mean, even today, where we talk about or hear about all the books that are being banned, and you got to sit there and go, have you read them? Do you know? Are you just going what, by what someone else said any course usually, the hammer rhythm they don’t know. Right, right. Right. For a while, people were really going after Dr. Seuss, you know, he’s a racist and all that. But I was watching something last week. And they said, the people who were reporting said over time, he changed. And if he had more racist comments, or what we’re deciding now are racist comments early on. That wasn’t the case later in his life. I see. Yeah. Which is, which is interesting. But you know, we, we should value education, and we should do more to recognize the high value that it brings to all of us.
Alan Garcia 56:36
Michael Hingson 56:38
so you in addition to well, so exactly, what are you doing today? What’s your job today?
Alan Garcia 56:44
Sure. So I work for a pretty innovative secondary ed, educational model, the school is called a crystal Ray, Brooklyn High School. The Crystal ray model is a national model. It’s a private secondary network. It’s a Catholic network. 38 high schools in 30, cities coast to coast everywhere from Miami to Seattle, and all corners in between. And the really innovative thing no matter where we are, it says three things. So on the on the one, every crystal Ray school is designed to serve a population a demographic that otherwise could not afford or access private education. So I’ll give you an example here locally in New York, the average Catholic high school tuition annually is $10,000 a year. And yeah, and the average private, high school tuition, living other schools other than Catholic schools is $20,000 a year. And so our tuition is capped at $2,500 a year, no family will ever pay more than that. And we only charge families what they can afford. So each family is on an individualized payment plan relative to their income. And we vet that in admissions, we collect all sorts of paperwork. The average family contribution is at around $1,000 a year. So we want to make this a very affordable and accessible option. It’s a college preparatory experience. So that’s that’s on the one is who we serve, no matter where we are. That’s what we do. The second is every single student from freshman year through senior year, will go to school four days a week, and actually intern at a company in corporate America, private America, one day a week, all four years of high school. And so you could imagine you go to school, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and your interface, internship days Wednesday. And then you do that off all years of high school. The students get deployed on a day depending on what grade they’re in. So on one day, so for example, I said Wednesday that the senior work day, all senior the out of the building interning the rest of the students are in the building, but then the seniors go to school the other four days of the week. So it’s the same experience for every grade. That is combining both a college preparatory education and a youth Workforce Development giving the students real work life experience. Because again, this population tends to be first generation tends to be immigrant population, lower income population, who will likely be the first in their family to do a lot of things. So we want to close the achievement gap. And we have found that these two things are a recipe for success on a national scale. The most recent numbers a few years ago, the National aggregate Cristo Rey High School students on a national level are graduating from college six times the national rate of students in a similar demographic who don’t go to Cristo Rey High Schools. Now we have over a small sample size nationally. But it’s it’s it’s the scope is wide enough that we said hey, there’s something about this work thing. That’s different. Yeah. So that’s number two. Number three is the every school’s funding model. So because families only pay what they can afford, and in our school When Brooklyn Nets about 10% of our operating budget annually, the revenue we generate, through the work study program, the internship program that money funds the school. So I get this question all the time, Mr. Garcia, what am I getting my paycheck, right, the kids don’t get it, they don’t get a paycheck. A company will pay the school exchange a fee for service. And collectively in the aggregate those funds, each student is a price tag, essentially any student employee student worker, it’s $10,000 a year, from Labor Day, through the end of June, their work year models and academic school year, each company will pay for an intern. And that money collectively, for us is about 60% of our operating budget. And so that’s what literally keeps our lights on. It’s what’s subsidizes the child’s education, and allows us experience to be affordable and keep prices down for everyone. Now, you mentioned before sales, Michael, my job is to actually go out and sell this educational model this idea to companies and say, Hey, we have a young, motivated, excited workforce, that likely your company corporate America doesn’t have access to for a whole host of reasons where these kids live, the fact that they’re first generation, we exclusively serve students of color at our school. And a lot of companies are looking to increase the number of employees of color they have. So an organic pipeline of talent that you can say you’ve built a relationship with organically since they were teenagers. And then I also want to do what’s right by the kids, right, I want to I want them to have an educational experience, both at school and at the workplace. So finding the supervisors in the workplaces that are willing to work with the younger population, mentor them, almost an apprenticeship model, and show them the ropes. And so the more partners we’re able to get, the more money our school be getting, the more experiences our students can have. And so that’s what I do. That’s the school I work at. And I’m, as I mentioned before, the Vice President of Corporate work study program, so I oversee all program management, external client relations, student formation, and then curating those experiences, both for the students and the clients.
Michael Hingson 1:02:15
Do you do any teaching also in the school itself? Or as I don’t
Alan Garcia 1:02:19
do it? Yeah. Don’t do any formal classroom teaching. I’m in front of students a lot. Yeah, in a formal teaching sense.
Michael Hingson 1:02:27
But it’s cool. It’s exciting to to see what’s happening, and especially when you see these numbers of six times the average, the national average, that is really cool.
Alan Garcia 1:02:39
Yeah, yeah, it’s a, it’s a really sort of radical model, if you will, to walk into a school and be able to talk to a 15 year old and say, hey, where do you work? And so I work at American Express. And they hear the kids talk about it, and I visit them at all their work sites, and so to see the confidence and the fluency with which they operate that, that that part of the world that again, I think most adults are still learning how to navigate corporate America. Yeah, our kids are exposed to that and getting training there. And it translates they realize, hey, I can do this, even if no one in my family has done this, I’m gonna my neighborhood has done this, I have that additional support. And the supervisors really rally around the kids and, and take time out of their day. And so you know, we talked before about about love and all the ingredients for this, it takes a just the right mix of the right partner to make this work. And so it’s really, really cool work.
Michael Hingson 1:03:40
So what do you do when you’re not on the job? What do you what are your extracurricular activities?
Alan Garcia 1:03:48
It’s funny if you asked my wife she’d say all I do is work. Even even in my personal life. I’m talking about work and talking about education, and all that but but honestly, I’m a big sports buff.
Michael Hingson 1:04:00
I kind of figured that had to show up. So I’m a big
Alan Garcia 1:04:04
love baseball of the Yankees. I grew up playing basketball. As I mentioned before, that was kind of my my thing. I don’t get on the court as much as I used to. Last year, I actually had a pretty devastating leg injury. I tore my ACL MCL and had a bone fracture in my right leg pretty much shattered my leg playing basketball. Had to have reconstructive knee surgery, very intensive physical therapy. I haven’t really been on a basketball court since but thankfully I’m recovered to the point where another passion and hobby I took up even before the injury was running. I got into running and not just leisurely but also participating in things like half marathons and 10, k’s and five K’s and so as part of my rehab I’m actually running the New York City half marathon in two weeks, on March 19. It’ll be the most that I’ve exerted myself since the injury. But it’s a race at done before the race I really enjoy. And so I’m using it both as a personal marker of my health, but also to my students and to folks in my extended network of, you know, when life knocks you down, quite literally, you pick yourself up and you work harder. And I remember when I fell on the basketball court, I literally Michael could not pick myself up, my teammates had to carry me and I was on crutches for a long time. And that’s literally lean on people to get through life. And, and so I want to prove to myself first and foremost with my others, with a strong support system and, and putting in the hard work and, and really appreciating my life even before I had the injury in a new way that you can come back out stronger. And so I’ve been training for that I’ve been running. And that that’ll be a pretty neat milestone coming up in a few weeks.
Michael Hingson 1:05:55
You You’ve been through a lot, you’ve obviously accomplished a lot, and you’ve experienced a lot. What’s one piece of advice you would give to people who are listening to this. I’d say
Alan Garcia 1:06:11
Never give up. When life potentially closes a door, or, or presents an obstacle. Have a backup plan or try and think of how you can change or pivot and don’t allow the setbacks or the challenges to defeat you see them as a way for you to learn a new skill, or learn something you didn’t know you had deep down in you that we all do. We’re much more versatile. And we’re much more adept, we can adapt a lot more if we really believe in it. If we don’t think we can or we have a defeatist mindset, then we won’t, we won’t. So I think it’s never give up and see every challenge and again, different, something different as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Michael Hingson 1:07:10
Yeah, it’s it’s really, I don’t want to insult anyone. But it’s really as simple as that you can decide to take everything that happens to you as a learning experience or not. That’s your choice. It’s also like, you know, when you come to a fork in the road, take it. It’s the reality is that we really can make good choices and we can make choices that can be good. It’s really up to us. And if we’re negative, then that’s going to be a problem. If we’re positive, we’ll find ways to succeed. That’s right. That’s right. Well, I want to thank you, Alan, for being here. This has been a lot of fun. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope that you out there listening, have enjoyed it. If people want to maybe reach out to you or learn more about the crystal Ray schools or any of that sort of stuff. How might they do that?
Alan Garcia 1:08:05
Sure. So you can go right on our website, Crystal Ray Brooklyn. And you’ll see my contact information there. You can go on my LinkedIn, search me up Alan Garcia. You can come visit us in east flat blush, either, you know, find my contact information on my LinkedIn or on our website. We’re more than happy to strike up a conversation grab a cup of coffee or or even host you at our school, always looking to meet new folks.
Michael Hingson 1:08:35
Do you know anybody back there who is still saying that someday the Dodgers are gonna move back to Brooklyn?
Alan Garcia 1:08:42
Just checking. Things folks have given up on that one.
Michael Hingson 1:08:45
I don’t know. I was in New York a few years ago and somebody said one of these days they’re coming back?
Alan Garcia 1:08:51
Well, there’s a lot more interleague play
Michael Hingson 1:08:54
there is there there is absolutely that that’s true. There’s that. Well, I want to thank you again and I want to thank you for listening to us today. I hope that you enjoyed it. I would appreciate it and I’m sure Alan would if wherever you’re listening you give us a five star rating especially go to apple and go to iTunes and give us a five star rating we would really appreciate you doing that and love your comments. And Alan for you and for anyone listening if you know anyone who might be a good guest or you think would be a good guest on unstoppable mindset want to hear from you about them. We really appreciate that. You can reach me a couple of different ways. One is to go to the podcast website. www dot Michael hingson.com/podcast and Michael Hingson is M I C H A E L H I N G S O N one word, Michael hingson.com/podcast Or email me at Michaelhi at accessibe A C C E S S I B E.com love to hear from you and I hope that you will give us some good comments and again, especially the five star ratings. We love those appreciate you doing that. And we hope that you’ll be back with us again next week to have another episode or the next time we’re on. We’ve been doing two of these week actually for quite a while now and now and we appreciate you contributing to that. And once more, I want to thank you for being with us and spending over an hour with us today.
Alan Garcia 1:10:18
This is a lot of fun, Michael, really appreciate the opportunity and, and hanging out with you.
Michael Hingson 1:10:28
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.