In an exclusive interview with Fox News Latino, the President of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández, who grew up in the United States, urges Dominican-Americans to never forget their roots.

“Just by being in the United States you can network with different organizations and individuals in different walks of life that can make a contribution in the Dominican Republic,” Fernández told Fox News Latino. “I think you can make a change and contribute to a major transformation.”

Fernández grew up in New York City’s best-known Dominican neighborhood, Washington Heights, for most of his youth before heading back to the Dominican Republic after graduating high school. Decades later, he became president of the Republic.

He stresses to Dominicans here and in the Dominican Republic that education is the key to helping improve the country and Dominican culture.

“If we are able to attract foreign direct investments in the country we can use some of that knowledge to enhance economic performance back home...," he said. "We feel joyful that someone could go abroad and educate themselves but never forget their homeland. It’s trying to connect emotionally and professionally with the country in order to progress in the individual level and as a nation.”

Fernández urged second- and third-generation Dominicans to keep returning to their homeland so they could retain their cultural roots.

“I would encourage Dominican parents to send their children on vacation to the Dominican Republic to become bicultural, to learn Spanish, and to have a command of the Spanish language, to speak it correctly, to write it correctly, to never forget their cultural roots,” Fernández said.

“It goes both ways. Dominicans come to the States to become bicultural by learning English and absorbing a new culture and these young Dominican students can go back to the Dominican Republic and connect with their cultural roots, the language, their families, and the country.”

You can reach Alexandra Gratereaux at: Alexandra.Gratereaux@foxnewslatino.com

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