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I Learn Library

A human library inspired by the stories in the film

I am a mixture of glad and sad

By Lisbeth  |   From : The Bronx  |   School : MACS H.S.

Childhood.

Do you know how beautiful it is to live in Ensanche Libertad, Santiago, Dominican Republic? There are lots of huge trees and there is a wonderful monument called “A Los Héroes de la Restauración.” From my childhood, I remember a lot of guava with salt. My cousins and I used to eat it when we went to the apartment of one of our friends and next to the balcony of her apartment was a tree of guava. The tree belonged to an old woman who always got furious when we took her guavas out of the tree. That happened every afternoon after school. I also remember that magical taste of chicken and rice that my grandmother cooked as if she were the best chef of chicken and rice in the world! I was so happy because I grew up around all my cousins! And we played a lot of games like, las topaita, las escondidas, la Cortina del palacio,a las carreras, and jumbo, every single evening and sometimes at night while our parents talked about different topics.

Exodus

On November 30, 2014, when I was 14-years-old, I came home from school and my mom sat at the dinner table with my sister and me and she said we were leaving in a week. We thought that we were leaving in January, but we actually needed to leave sooner because my grandmother had a terrible disease and my mother had to work to buy the medicine which cost a lot of money. But we were not only leaving for that reason, we also were leaving in order to have a better future. I felt like the world stopped for a few seconds. I felt depressed because I didn’t know when I was going to see my family again. Do you know how difficult that was? My family and I did not pack too much because we were going to buy new things for our new life. However, I did pack all the pictures that I had of my family as well as all the letters written on white paper in blue or black pen that my lovely boyfriend had written to me every month since we started seeing each other. He always used my favorite colors of pen, and when we were celebrating a new month together, he always waited to give me the letter in the sparkling night so I could read it before I went to bed. I also packed and brought with me all of my memories with my family. My friends made a surprise for me in the auditorium of the school where the shared the beautiful moments they had with me. In a lot of tears, I said goodbye to them. I am never going to forget that moment when the last face that I saw was the face of my grandmother, saying goodbye to me for the last time.

The Crossing

I couldn’t believe that the moment to leave had come. I left the Dominican Republic to go to the United States with my siblings and my mom on December 6, 2014. One thing I remember is the miniature houses and the ocean that I saw from the window of the airplane. Another thing I remember is the bad coffee without sugar that I tasted on the airplane. This is an important memory because after that I have not drunk any more coffee. I thought that my flight was at 6:00pm and that I was two hours late. I passed these two hours thinking about I did not know when I was going to see my boyfriend again although he was confident that we were going to stay together. I also did not know if I was going to see my gorgeous grandmother again. She had short, soft hair that she almost always kept in a ponytail. She was always wearing a long, black skirt and wore blue or black, medium-sized earrings. My grandmother died on July 25, 2015. Once I was on the plane, I felt depressed, nervous, and fearful because I had never flown or gone to another country. I have lived in the United States for one year and three months. How did I feel about my crossing? I am a mixture of glad and sad now that I have crossed into the United States. I can have a better future but I cannot share personal fun moments with my boyfriend.

Into Another Land

My mom asked my step-father, who was waiting for us in airport in the United States, “What are we going to do now?” He replied, “We are going to my mother’s house.” The mother of my step-father was not the person who we thought she was at first. Her behavior and actions were the best, but a few weeks later everything changed in the worst way. What were my emotions when we arrived in the United States? I felt nervous, cheerful, and depressed. Things in the United States were different for me. The moment I came out of the airport and looked around me, I said, “Enserio, this is New York? This is the place that everybody talks about? This is what people are going crazy for like monkeys?” When my body felt that cold and horrible whether like the North Pole it alarmed me. There were enormous buildings, the long bridges, the different lifestyles, the language, the weather, the enormous parks, additionally. Can you imagine being in a country for the first time and not knowing how to take a bus? That was what happened to me for two weeks. I walked 12 blocks in the morning while it was snowing to go school and only because I did not have any idea how take a bus. But the worst moment when I came to the United States was when my mother burst into tears because she could not find a job. Her children were living through one of the most terrible parts of their lives as she was too. For me to see my mother crying broke my soul into two pieces. I wondered if all of these problems were the bad parts of coming to the United States, but it was just the beginning.

A New Life

My family and I went to the home of my step-father’s mother where my family and I were going to live. My new home did not look awful because you can live there, but it was not excellent because of the living conditions. It had three bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room and a bathroom. But there was only one bedroom for us. This new home was completely different because in my old home I only shared my bedroom with my sister, not with all my family. After two weeks, the mother of my step-father demonstrated to us that she had two personalities. The first one was that she cared about us and the other second one was that she really hated us because she did not want my mom to be the wife of my step-father. My home from in the Dominican Republic was really big and in my new home I felt so bad and without privacy. I could only use the bathroom for 10 minutes the whole day. The only place that I felt comfortable was school. When I started school, I felt terrified because of the new language, but I met really courteous teachers who helped me feel more comfortable at the school. Later, I met two persons who helped me and showed me how to take the bus and feel comfortable both inside and outside the school.

Shade and Light

I changed my lifestyle. I used to only speak one language, now I speak two. Some of my actions are completely different. For example, in the Dominican Republic I used throw things whenever I got mad. I don’t do that in the United States because I don’t have enough space to throw the things and I see that there’s no point in doing that. Three months after my migration to the United States, my mother and my step-father rented an apartment for us. Something different and positive about my moving to the United Sates was that I learned a new language and I know that this is going to be marvelous for my future. Something negative about my moving to the United States is that I am going to live apart from the people that I love—and one of this people I am never going to see again. In part, I am happy that I came to the United Sates because here I can have better opportunities for my future and I can learn a lot of new things. This experience made me realize that you should be prepared for the unpleasant moments that are on your way; all the things that happen to you have a purpose for what God has prepared for you.

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