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I Learn Library

A human library inspired by the stories in the film

I was 13 years old going on 14 when my dad said we were going to the United States.

By Miranda Perla  |   From : Dominican Republic  |   School : MACS The Bronx

My name is Perla Miranda. I grew up in the Dominican Republic, La Vega, Arenoso. There were many trees and restaurants there. The people did not always respect you because sometimes you would talk to them but they did not listen. Some of them were friendly because they paid attention to you and they would always be there for you. When I was a child, I lived with my parents, my grandparents, aunts, and cousins. My father did not want to live in another house because he did not want to live without his parents. I remember that I always went outside to play with my friend and my cousins. We played el topao, las escondidas, and vitilla. My happy moments were when my family would go to Ingini, La Vega to eat pizza and ice cream. My cousins and I used to play there a lot of the time, almost all weekend.

I was 13 years old going on 14 when my dad said to me that we were going to the United States to live there. When he told me that we were going to the United States, I feel sad, nervous, and at the same time nostalgic because I was not going to live in the Dominican Republic anymore even though sometimes we come back to visit. We prepared only the best clothes because when we arrived in the United States my stepmother would buy us new clothes. My family had a party for my father, my little brother, and me before we left. All the members of my family and my cousins’ friends were there and they cooked carne en la parrilla (grilled meat) for us. I remember that my aunt cooked with my uncle and me. My uncle and I always cooked together. I remember the food, the music, and the beautiful friends and family that I had there.

I left the Dominican Republic to go to the United States on March 7, 2014. I went with my father, my brother, and my stepmother’s sister. One thing I remember was that the airplane moved around a lot because there was too much turbulence. Another thing that I remember was that my dad and my brother fell asleep on the airplane. I still remember this because I woke up and I saw that they were sleeping. This is an important memory because it reminded me that that I felt so sad because I had left my country and all of my family. I thought about my mom. I felt so sad because I could not be with my mom as much anymore. I wanted to turn the airplane back so that I could see her again for a few minutes. I have lived in the United States for three years now. I am happy that I crossed into the United States because I learned another language and I made new friends at school. Now I have almost finished high school and want to go to college.

The first place that I went when I came to the United States was my stepmother’s house. My first thoughts and feelings when I arrived in United States were that it was good to be here for a new future, but at the same time they were sad because I missed my mother. It was interesting because I wanted to learn the culture of this country. When I came here, the first thing that I touched was the food that I ate and then my suitcase to get my clothes. The difference between the United States and the Dominican Republic was the look of the houses and the taste of the food. For me, almost everything was different. The only thing that was the same was when my stepmother cooked arroz, habichuela, and pollo. I loved the way she cooked the food from my country because this reminded me of the Dominican Republic. Something funny was when people spoke in English and I did not understand anything in my environment.

My new home was very different because it was an apartment. The language and the food were the same. I felt good and the same time sad in my new house. When I started school, I felt nervous and stressed but at the same time I felt happy because I was going to learn a new language. The most important thing that happened was that on the first day of school I made new friends who spoke the same language as me.

When I moved here, everything in my life changed because I have a new home, I live with different people, I share a room with my stepsister, and I have to speak another language. Some positive things about moving to the United States are that I learned a new language and I made new friend. Now if I want to visit another country where people speak English, I will understand. Something negative about moving to the United States was that I have to go to school from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm every day. I also have to go to Saturday school from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm every week. In the Dominican Republic, I used to go to school from 8:00 am to 12:00pm. One thing that people can learn about my story is that when I moved to the United States, my life truly changed. I used to be a quiet person, I never talked in class or to anybody else, but now I talk with everybody and I have to talk in class. I can now help the teacher translate for new students who speak Spanish but do not know English.

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