Soldier leaves beach for sandbox
By Pfc. Leah R. Burton
28th Public Affairs Detachment
LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — In an Army that is a cross-section of the American population, it can be a challenge to hold on to one's cultural identity and to not lose oneself in an American melting pot.
Spc. Brenda Cintron, a finance clerk from 313th Adjutant General Company, attached to 175th Adjutant General Company (Postal), keeps her culture very close to her heart.
Born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico, she grew up enjoying the sunny skies, picturesque beaches and coconut trees with her mother and two sisters.
"In the states, when you're on the highway, you see nothing but the street. In Puerto Rico, when you're on the highway you see beaches and mountains all over the place," Cintron said.
She thinks people are more conservative there than in the states, and they keep a great deal of control over their daughters in Puerto Rico.
"In Puerto Rico, you ask, 'Mom, can I go to the party?' She's going to ask where it is, when you'll be home, who you're going with. If she doesn't like who you're going with, you're not going," Cintron said.
Cintron went to high school in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, and attended the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez, where she is working toward her bachelor's degree in Industrial Management. She has yet to graduate, but completing her education is high on her list of priorities.
Because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, its people are U.S. citizens. They are subject to military service and are governed internally by a governor elected by popular vote.
Growing up at home, her family only spoke Spanish, so when Cintron decided to join the Army, she had to learn English. She attended English as a Second Language classes at Lackland Air Force Base prior to going through Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Jackson, S.C.
"[Going to basic] was my first time leaving Puerto Rico. It was so different," she said. "I could understand what people were saying, but sometimes I just didn't get it. Now I speak two languages, and I can [talk] with anybody and they understand me."
Cintron has found the Army experience rewarding and educational.
"I always like the idea of being in the Army. I thought it was a good experience. Now I know this is a great experience," she said.
She enjoys the Army so much, that she was in the process of joining the active Army when she was deployed.
"I like it because I get to meet different cultures. In this job, I learn how to deal with all types of people," Cintron said.
In her downtime, she researches the commonwealth on the Internet, reads Puerto Rican history, and speaks Spanish with other people who share her culture.
She was raised with the ideology that it takes a village to raise a child. She plans on instilling that same pride in her daughter.
"I'm Puerto Rican, and she's going to know that she's Puerto Rican, too," she said.
Editors Note: Pfc. Burton is a member of the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. She is currently deployed to Iraq in support of the 13th Corps Support Command at LSA Anaconda.
Spc. Brenda Cintron
Spc. Brenda Cintron