Osmani’s America

So far, Osmani Raul Fornaris Nuñez’s first year in the United States has been very good to him. Several months ago, the 40-year-old arrived here from his native Cuba and soon found a job at Orlando Latin Market in St. Petersburg.

“I have had many opportunities to learn new things,” he said in Spanish. “Things I previously knew nothing about.”

His light eyes twinkled with pride.

It’s here that Nuñez has learned to navigate his way around a business. At work, he often moves swiftly from task to task.

“I go out to buy merchandise, I stock items on the shelves and like that… many things that I previously knew nothing about,” he said. “Whatever needs to be done here.”

In Cuba, Nuñez said he was what’s called an almacenero – a storekeeper – for a bakery. He would gather and weigh the essential ingredients – flour, sugar, yeast – and hand them over to the bakers so they can do their work. He said it was a comfortable job.

(LISTEN: Nuñez shares what he tells his children in Cuba about life in America in the below audio clip)

One of Nuñez’s greatest struggles since arriving here has been the glaring absence of his four children who are in Cuba. It’s the long distance between him and them: two daughters, ages 1 and 19, and two sons, ages 7 and 17.

“I have missed them a lot… but those are things that will pass,” he said. “I know there will be a time when I will have them with me because I plan on doing that.”

Nuñez said he speaks to his children often on the phone and tells them what he has lived so far here in America.

“I tell them that this is a great country… for me. Everyone has their own opinion,” he said. “I have told them that this is a great country with many opportunities but, in this country, you come to work. There’s no other way.”