Before coming to the U.S. last year, Diaz made $12 a month as a computer science teacher in Cuba.
An Instagram post featuring Yoel Diaz, a recent Cuban immigrant, is going viral because it shows a powerful example of something many of us in America take for granted. The freedom to earn a paycheck for a day of honest labor.
In the video, Diaz is ecstatic after he opens his first paycheck after getting a job as a seasonal worker for UPS. CBS reports that before coming to the U.S. last year, Diaz made $12 a month as a computer science teacher in Cuba.
"This is my first hourly paycheck that I feel every hour counted," he told CBS News. "That every hour of work has importance in my life and that I know I can work hard for something. I can't compare that emotion with anything. Because I never had that in my country."
The new job was a big change from life in Cuba where he had trouble filling his refrigerator. He told CBS News that sometimes he only had two items: "Water, water, water, five, ten eggs, water."
“First paycheck in AMERICA!!! This is the American dream!!!” his wife Marissa Diaz of Pheonix, Arizona captioned the post. “There are no words to describe how proud I am of your courage to enter a country and a culture that is not yours. This content is a mini documentary not only for us but dedicated to the many immigrants who sacrifice everything to film what we just filmed. A little bit at a time, with hard work and dedication anything is possible in this country.
Diaz's video comes at a time when Cuba is facing some of its most difficult economic hardships since Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution. Widespread food and medicine shortages have led to protests in the streets, a rarity in the authoritarian country.
Diaz moved to America from Cuba to be with his wife whom he met as a child living in the communist country. After moving to the U.S., she shared stories of what life was like outside of Cuba. After the couple got together, Diaz had a choice: to stay in Cuba or go to the U.S. for greater opportunity.
"We want a future, we want a family... wherever you go I go,” he said. “This time, I finally can dream—I can help my family and this is the first step in my new life where I can be whoever I want now,” he said according to The New York Post.
On election day, Diaz shared why Americans should be grateful to have the ability to choose their leaders because where he is from, there is only one party. His perspective is important at a time when many Americans feel the country has been divided by political tribalism.
"Sometimes I see people fight with each other and they don't know the blessing they have. Just that you can think differently is a positive," he said in the video. "To Americans: Think about what you have. You Should stop fighting because it's something so beautiful. To think differently."
Diaz’s appreciation of his life in America is a great lesson to all of us who may take our unique freedoms for granted. America may not be a perfect place, but it’s still a country where people are free to pursue their dreams. Diaz’s story is also a wonderful reminder of the power America has to transform lives through immigration and that it should embrace that opportunity and give the gift to as many people as possible.