By Kristina Whitley
Like many Hispanic immigrants, Eugenio Revuelta didn”t intend to stay long in Provo. He only came for “a little bit of adventure and to learn English.”
But shortly after arriving in Provo, Revuelta found a job he enjoyed, a woman he loved, and religion he believed in.
Since moving to Provo from Mexico in 1981, Revuelta has become an active, hard-working member of the community he describes as “wonderful.”
Revuelta is one of many Hispanics who has immigrated to Utah County in the last several decades. State census figures released last week show that the Hispanic population in Provo has grown by 138 percent in the last ten years.
In fact, people of Hispanic descent account for almost a quarter of the population in South and Central Provo, according to state census reports.
Lloyd Baker, a Provo resident with many Hispanic friends, said that immigrants come to Provo to try to improve their lives.
“These people are sacrificing real careers to come here,” he said. “They feel like they can make a new, better life for themselves here.”
Hispanic immigration has increased throughout the country. According to 2000 census released last week, the national Hispanic population has grown to 35 million in the last ten years, with Mexican immigration increasing 53 percent nationally.
For some immigrants, the transition has been relatively easy. “The people are wonderful,” Revuelta said.
“I have never felt discriminated against and never felt like I didn”t belong.”
“I have assimilated the culture,” Revuelta said. “Not losing my tradition, not losing my roots, but I have accepted this way of life as a good way of life.”
For others, the transition has not been as easy. William Grendi left Chile to move to Provo almost two years ago, hoping to go to BYU. Although he could not afford to go to school, he found a good job and is planning to start his own home stereo business.
Grendi feels there is some latent discrimination in the community.
“You don”t want to believe that people are discriminating against you because of the way you look. My hair is darker than yours, and my eyes and skin are darker, but we”re still the same,” Grendi said.
Revuelta feels the best way to avoid discrimination and to aid new immigrants is for each individual to participate in the community. According to Revuelta, new immigrants, “need to come and get involved.”
“I find as I interact with people, that people are people, no matter where they come from,” Revuelta said. “We have fears, we have hopes, we are exposed to life in the same ways.”