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I Learn Library

A human library inspired by the stories in the film

I have come a long way since I arrived.

By Maria  |   From : Mexico  |   School : Social Justice Humanitas Academy (San Fernando, CA)

I was only six years old having had my birthday a month before on the border. Little did I know that I would not just be a year older then, but crossing of the border would be my coming of age. That day the fog was as intense as my heartbeat. The day went by almost like a dream. By the time I was fully conscious I was in a strangers car on my way to a strange place. I have never felt so alone in the world. Away from my mom I was a defenseless cub in an open field. I felt demeaned as I was put in a corner forced to sleep on the ground. To this day I hate Fruit Punch Capri Suns because it reminds me of that car ride across the border. When I finally arrived to the US the next day, I saw the proud face of my father and my two siblings that had come before me. I was trapped inside my father’s embrace. I had waited what felt like an eternity to see my father and yet I felt empty. My mother came a week later and our family was finally together, but we  more apart than when we were miles apart.  Coming here was like dying and going to hell. I cried for months after I arrived. The transition was difficult especially because my father was very transparent and did not hide his regret. I felt worthless and alone.

 

My happiest memory before coming to the United States would have to be getting to enjoy my last rodeo in my towns arena. I remember dancing until my legs felt loose. That day was like any regular day. I did not know that I would never get to experience another one. I figure that deep down I knew that my days in my country were running out. I just remember enjoying every single second of that day. I was truly present and experiencing every little detail. I remember smelling the pure smell of wet dirt and the common smell of cattle and horse manure. I remember hanging off the white bars surrounding the arena and picking up my feet when the horses would run by. I figure that by now my mind has added some details to my memory, but nevertheless it the happiest memory that I can recall.

The saddest memory I have before coming to the United States is when my father left to come here. I remember that day I woke up extra early to get in bed with my mom and dad. The next thing I know I was crying my eye out because my father was never to return. I remember him saying to not cry, to be strong, but I could not hold back. He had promised to send a doll as soon as he got settled down, but I just wanted my father. I did not want a lifeless doll serving as a reminder of my father’s absence.

A year after I arrived I began to go to school. At first the road was rough and bumpy, but then I began to find my place. Although I did not speak English I found a way to make the best of my school year. I enjoyed sports and until this day I enjoy sports and engage in athletics when I feel stressed. Because of sports I managed to excel in my courses. My first grade year was the best out of my academic career. I had a great teacher who encouraged me and busted my self esteem. She allowed me to be myself. She has been the only teacher who, I feel, has genuinely care for me. That year I felt very good about myself. I was finally fluently speaking English and getting my ideas across.

 

When we first arrived we did not have a stable home. We moved around to different relatives. With this unstableness came the sense of rejection. My family felt uncomfortable in homes that weren’t ours. We could not even get a cookie out of the pantry because we were not entitled to. Then one day I overheard my mother having a conversation with my aunt. I saw tears coming out of my mother’s eyes as my aunt began to demean her and threatening her with having ICE come to the city and deporting her. I was extremely angered and sad seeing my own flesh and blood degrading my family.

Currently I have made it my life goal to be successful and give my family an opportunity to take part in that success. I have come a long way since I arrived. Now school is my platform where I allow myself to shine and I make the best of life. I no longer hide behind my insecurities, instead I confront them and I step into the light. I embrace myself and my uniqueness because I know that I have a lot to offer to the world. Although I am proud of my accomplishments, I am still not content with myself. I know I have aspects of myself I have to improve on. For example, I am not selfish enough. I tend to focus on the needs of others instead of my own. That can be rewarding to others as I am doing good deeds for them, but it has proved draining to me.

I want an education. These days education makes you the sharpest knife in the pantry.  It is no longer enough to be able to hold down a job that only required a high school diploma. College is essential for me. It has not been easy to get to the point I am now and I know it is going to be even harder in the future, but if I made it this far there is no telling how much farther I will go. At this point I know what I’m capable of and knowing myself is half of the battle. I am ready to face whatever is thrown at me.

I would like to use my story to inspire those around me and to let my parents know that I’m trying. I know for a fact that my parents do not understand the value of my accomplishments. I find myself not knowing what to tell them when they ask me why I do not want to leave the life I have now to go back to my country. I need them to validate the worth of my accomplishments.

I can use my story to tell them that although there might be great obstacles in the way, there is nothing you can not accomplish if you truly want it. From my story they can learn to be hustlers and ambitious.

As an immigrant I hope my story will humanize the word used to describe us. I feel that elected officials tend to make the wrong choice because they do not recognize those on

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