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I Learn Library

A human library inspired by the stories in the film

When I touched the white snow for first time in the US, I felt happy

By Desiree  |   From : The Bronx  |   School : M

Childhood

I came to the United States when I was just five-years-old. I was born in the Dominican Republic in Santo Domingo—that’s the capital of the Dominican Republic. A lot of people live there. I remember when I used to play el topao with all my cousins. In English, el topao means catch. I also used to watch my grandfather play dominoes. When I was in the Dominican Republic, I used to shower in the rain. That’s the best thing because when it’s rained almost all of the neighborhood would come out to shower in the rain and when the rain stopped they stayed outside waiting for it to come back. I also used to play bitilla in the street. Bitilla is like baseball, but instead of a ball you use a cap. When I came to the United States, I went to live in Brooklyn. I grew up on Bleeker Street. In Brooklyn, there are a lot of Italian people and they all speak Italian. Well, sometimes they speak in English too. I had an Italian best friend and she used to teach me Italian. I forgot some words, and the ones I do remember, almost everybody knows. I lived with my father, my brother, and my grandmother. During my childhood, I used to hear my dad closing the door when he would come home really late from work. He used to work really hard for me and my big brother. I remember watching my grandma cook for the whole family. I remember tasting the sweet flavor of arroz con leche. I remember playing in the snow. When I touched the cold, white snow for first time in the United States, I felt happy because I had never touched snow in the Dominican Republic. I remember feeling the warm arms of my father when he used to give me hugs and the smell of the good food that my grandma would make for Christmas. I felt happy when I was a child because my grandma was like my partner. She used to make things for me and buy me a lot of toys that made me happy because I had nothing to play with, especially since my cousins were all grown up.

Exodus

I left the Dominican Republic to go to the United States in May 2005. I found out that I was leaving because my dad said to me, “Desiree, you should feel happy because we are going to the United States!” I felt gleeful, but I also felt brokenhearted. I didn’t pack anything because my dad and my grandma were going to buy me more clothes, shoes, and more new things when we got to the United States. When I got to the airport, I just gave a hug and a kiss to my family and friends because I didn’t want to say goodbye. Inside, the airport smelled like coffee. I remember seeing people running desperately to be on time for their airplane. It was interesting for me when I got on the airplane because it was my first time and I never thought that it could be that fun.

The Crossing

I still remember these moments because they are important memories because that you never forget. I thought about what life was going to be like in the United States because I didn’t know anything about it. I felt like I was starting everything all over but without my mother and my little brother. Everything was going to be absolutely different. I wanted to go back to my country because I thought I was not going to get use to the United States. I have lived in the United States for 11 years now. I am happy that I crossed into the United States because now my mom and my brother are here too and I have better opportunities.

Into Another Land

Where did I first go when I got to the United States? I went to Brooklyn. Not everybody liked living in Brooklyn because the houses are very small and they had to pay a lot of money for the rent. When I arrived in the United States, I first though about all I used to do in my country and I felt sad because I thought I was never going to see my mom ever again. On the airplane, I touched my dad’s hand and smelled my grandma’s perfume. It smelled as soft as the smell of flowers. In New York, it was as cold as ice. There were a lot of buildings, and I couldn’t feel the heat of the sun because I was freezing. I heard people speaking my language. Luckily, I had family and people who knew me already.

A New Life

My new home looked like a little town because everything was little in there. My old home was really big and cute, but Brooklyn is not cute at all. When I started school I thought that it was the worst thing ever. I felt upset because everybody was mean to me just because I did not know how to speak English. I was really quiet because I was scared to talk to people from my class. But there was another student that was quiet like me. I thought about to talking to that person because he might need help or just needed a friend or someone to talk to. That’s why I decided to start a conversation with him. It was important for me because that person became my first friend here in the United States and because of him I stopped being shy in the class and started to ask the teacher and my new friend for help. Then everything started to get different. The other students thought that I was not going to have any friends and that I was always going to be by myself, but they were wrong. After all that, a lot of people started talking to me and even the people that always used to bother me wanted to start a conversation with me.

Shade And Light

Everything changed since I moved to the United States; at first, everything was like a depressing movie because I felt like everyone in my family was a stranger. I am inspired because I came here to the United States and I now know more than one language and I learned about other cultures—something that I never thought that I would have the opportunity to do. What can people learn from my story? You always have to keep going forward, no matter what the situation is and think about the future and the opportunities that you can get in the United States.

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