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I Learn Library

A human library inspired by the stories in the film

Y esto es Nueva York no me hagan eso me quiero ir de aqui

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

Childhood

The Dominican Republic is a country with a lot of culture that tourists can see. I grew up in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. There you could see the beautiful beaches and hotels. The people in Dominican Republic were very friendly and they spoke Spanish because it was a country colonized by Spain. The people there didn’t know any other language. In the Dominican Republic I lived with my parents and my three sisters. I remember during my childhood that I touched everything in my house. I used to touch my mom’s cellphone and my mom felt angry with me because I touched everything and all time. Should was say, “Elaine déjà de estar topando tanto. Tate tranquila muchacha tanto que molesta.” During my childhood I listened to the music of Michael Jackson because my daddy liked him. I also listened to the music of José José and Camilo Sexton because my grandfather liked them. I used to eat rice with guandules and carne de res. When I was a child I felt very happy because I had everything that I wanted and I had a good life with my family.

Exodus

When I was 12-years-old, I found out I was leaving. My mom told me and my sister that we have the confirmation to travel to the United States. My emotions were very sad because I did not want to leave my country where I had my all family and friends and I was going to miss them. When I learned that I had to travel to the United States, I was very depressed because I did not know when I would see my family again. My family and I prepared very sadly because we did not want to leave Santo Domingo. I took all my all clothes and some pictures that I had of my family. When I said goodbye I felt very sad. I could not see the faces of the people that I loved because we said goodbye on the phone. I did not get to see important people like my boyfriend or my cousins. When I arrived in the United States and got in the car to go to my new home, I said, “Y esto es Nueva York no me hagan eso me quiero ir de aqui.” Then when I saw the cemetery I said, “Dios mio! Se parece a las casitas de los perros porque es demasiado diferente al cementerio de santo domingo.”

The Crossing

I left the Dominican Republic to go to the United States on February 6, 2013. One thing I remember is that I saw a lot people at the airport—some of them had sad faces. This was an important experience for me because it was the day that I left my country. I thought about how when I crossed into the United States, everything would look different. I felt very lonely and I felt strange felt because I was in a place that did not belong to me. I wanted to return back to my country. I have lived in the United States for three years now. I am not happy that I crossed into the United States because my dad is not here with us. I also feel that it is difficult to be with family that you think will support you but you sink in solitude.

Into Another land

When I came to the United States, my uncle took me to Popeye’s the first day I was in New York. My first thought was that everything in the United States was very different from the Dominican Republic, such as the weather, the buildings, the language, and the streets. When I walked out of the airport it was so cold outside and the sky was black. When I arrived in the United States, I felt very inferior because everything was changing for me. However, I noticed that some people spoke the same language as me. After four months in the United States, I graduated from middle school. This experience was very important for me because I had never done anything like this in my country. I sad though because my dad was not there with me on such an important and special day. I did not expect this beautiful experience and I was surprised because I had been there for so little time and did not have a lot of English. My English teacher called me and spoke with me alone. She gave me some books for me to read in both English and Spanish and also gave me three medals for my great performance in school. When it was my last day and I got my diploma, my friends who were in a grade lower than me began to mourn because I was leaving in such a short time. They remember me as “the redhead.”

A New Life

When I went to the United States I went to the house of my aunt Monica. I lived with her for eight months. My new home looked different because I had to share everything with my sisters and with my mom’s family. In my old home I had my space, but in this new home I could not do whatever I wanted. I felt weird in my new home and I could not get used to it. When I started school I was scared on the first day because I didn’t know how the others students would act around me. Since I did not speak English, I worried that the other students would think they were superior to me for me being new at school and think I’m an illiterate person who didn’t know anything. I remember when I was in school in Santo Domingo I was one of the meritorious students who was known for doing well on tests and having discipline. In the Dominican Republic, my friends were extremely nice because they treated me like a sister. I was never in any trouble with anyone. My life was an extremely happy. I was always with my family in my quiet house and I could go where I pleased because everybody knew me there, unlike here. In the United States, you have to go outside in fear.

Shade and light

When I moved to the United States, everything in my life changed because I was separated from my dad and that was everything for me. I had to learn a new language that I didn’t know anything about. However, here I have another culture and other forms of talking to people like using formal language. My family is not together and we cannot stay happy because it has been difficult for us to spend three years separated. Sometimes I’m happy, but I feel bad. Coming here to the United States changed my life because the person who is the most special to me cannot stay here with me and my others sisters—that is my dad. Something that I want people to learn from my story is that not everything you see is the color of roses. You think that it will be good going to another country, but you start to miss your country and culture very badly.

 

The students at MACS High School in the Bronx have been exchanging their stories with students at Lycee Jacques Brel in Courneuve, France.

Elaine  and her classmate ( Lisbeth ) made a video to present their school to the students in France. (See Lisbeth and Elaine )

The students in France, then replied with comments and introductions of their own (see comments below)

2 Comments

  • Bartley

    June 8th, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Comment by Bartley (see: http://ilearnamerica.com/i_have_a_way_of_seeing_life/ )
    “Dear Elaine Ortega, It’s a pleasure to know, read and discover you. I am Bartley Maton, I’m in the 11th Grade. I study litterature and we have history, French, English, Sport, Spanish, Sciences. I am also interestd by the exchange program because it will permit to have many friend and discover another culture. Talking about cultures, in my high school, we have many students from various horizons: Algeria, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Chili, Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Portugal, Germany, Spain… My class neighbor is a Spanish. I’m a mixture of Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Sout Africa and Seychelles (I’m like a fruit juice) LMAO. Apart from School, I practice Football. A I’m a Central Defender and I remember an Argentinian player named Ariel Ortega. You have the same name. Are you from Argentina?

    I live in Epinay sur Sein and my school is at Courneuve. It’s about 25 minutes away with the tramway and about fifteen minutes from Paris with the subway. I like Paris, it’s so beautiful – I like fashion so I can say “I have plenty of fashion here for my account” LOL. We also like fast food. We have Mc Donalds, KFC and “Greek tacos” or Kebab a sort of fast food with meat, fries and mayonnaise, ketchup and so on. For our preoject, we will make a documentaty about our high school. We will share with you.

  • Elaine

    June 8th, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Comment by Elaine Ortega
    “My name if Elaine Ortega. I am from the Dominican Republic. At home, I speak Spanish. I also know English. I have lived in the US for 3 years. I attend the School at Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies. I am in my thirds year at the high school. My school is located in the Bronx in New York City. One thing I like about the United States is the summer because I can go to the beach and the park. / One thing I miss about my country is my friends and my house because it is so different than in the the US. My favorite activities are to be with my family and chatting with people in the DR. One thing that is important to know about me is that I like to help people who don’t know something at school.

    I am looking forward to working with you during the school year. One question: How is your life in France? How are immigrants treated in France?

    Sincerely.

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