Ariana Garcia knows the American Dream is alive and well.
“Absolutely, I believe it,” she said, sitting in the office of Gail Borysiewicz of Gail’s Island Realty in Key Colony Beach where she is an agent. “I believe in work and effort. Actually, the American Dream is the dream of the whole world.”
Ariana spent 12 years on the list for a Cuban visa waiting to join her mother and father and younger brother, American citizens, who had left when Ariana was just a young woman with a baby daughter.
Ariana arrived in the Keys from Cuba in 2008 and hit the ground running. One year later, she started her own cleaning business while working other jobs as well. That’s how she met Gail.
“I came by and dropped off business cards for my cleaning business,” said Ariana.
Gail, who speaks Spanish fluently, (more on that later), saw something special in Ariana.
“As we got to know each other, I saw her drive to succeed in life. And I was amazed by her goal-setting abilities. She recognizes opportunity when she sees it and is a conscientious worker,” Gail said.
While running her cleaning business, and working parttime at a local convenience store, she started studying for her real estate license at the same time her daughter was getting a degree in biochemistry from a university on the mainland. It took Ariana only eight months. In October of 2015, she had the official document which she has organized neatly into a three-ring binder filled with other information — sales leads, potential clients and other tools of the trade.
Ariana is cognizant of the distance she has come.
“The first year in the United States was hard, but it’s hard for everyone,” she said, “to fit into a new economic and political and social system. There are limitations, but it’s possible. And along the way you find good people; people like I have found.”
At that, Gail begins to tear up, too. Also a self-made woman, Gail has been selling and managing real estate since 1991. In 2008, she opened her brokerage at the moment the economy, especially the real estate industry, was nose-diving.
“We relied heavily on property management to get us through the lean times. But things are going fantastic now. Prices are rising and properties are selling,” Gail said.
Ariana makes the fourth real estate agent at Gail’s Island Realty, alongside Toni Sims, Steven McKeon and Gail herself. Ariana’s fluency in Spanish is a huge asset to the company, Gail said.
“There is an entire generation of people living in the United States who are more comfortable speaking Spanish. That’s the reality,” Gail said.
“There’s a window of opportunity,” Ariana said.
Gail learned to speak the language as a young bride. She recently visited Cuba with her husband to visit her daughter’s mother-in-law. She was able to visit both the resorts, and the traditional Cuban villages and said the disparity was eye-opening.
“It something people need to experience,” she said. “Many Cubans make $9 a month.”
Gail believes in people like Ariana, who grew up with so little.
“They are going to be a tremendous success because they haven’t been spoiled. They recognize American citizenship as an opportunity.”