Faces of awe stared me down, eyes devoured my every move. Sounds, articulation, and words that I failed to comprehend caused a sensation of fear to fill my eyes with tears. Voice cracking, throat shaking, all I could repeatedly state was “Quiero mi mami.”
Five years old, trembling, I was the only Hispanic at an elementary school in Missouri; I was the shiny new toy. Nobody understood me. Not one student. Not one teacher. Nobody knew Spanish. All I could do was stand there and cry.
All of the sudden, a piercing alarm went off and all of the other children reacted with a cheer and raced outside with all of their might. What was going on? The only thing I could help thinking to myself was, “Daddy said to be strong.”
As if a guardian angel was looking out for me, a boy came to my rescue. He walked towards me with his blonde, messy hair and a big, charismatic smile, language was not a border to him helping me. Instead of using words that I didn’t know, he came up to me, shook my hand and that was all it took. I had made my first friend, his token of humility and kindness is something that I will always carry on throughout my life. We don’t get to choose where we come from, but we get to choose where we are heading to. Tracing my roots back, my parents were two strong, reverent role models. Visioning a life of prosperity, success, and opportunity for their children, they sacrificed all they had, including being with their family in their beloved homeland of Mexico, and took the first step towards the “American Dream.”
I remember packing my color-faded shirts and my Elmo plush toy, I remember seeing my grandmother in tears, and I remember crossing the border, leaving behind the sweet aroma and beauty of our country behind. As soon as we cross the border, a new atmosphere arose. Our future was now at our fingertips. I was now an American.
We started our journey together as a family. Day in and day out, my father worked to find a job to support us.While living in our old, rusty maroon Lincoln, my dad opened the door and yelled in excitement “God has answered our prayers, I have a job.” What seemed like a blessing to us became the hardest challenge that would define our lives till this day. Dad was contracted as a scaffold builder for refinery companies all over the nation.Meaning, we would begin moving all around the country from Texas to Missouri to Nevada…10 cities, 12 schools, and one heck of a ride.
We could not afford to rent an apartment in some cities, we ended up living either in our cozy car or staying with my dad’s friends. I never had a loving place to call home. We had one mattress, a twin inflatable, which my dad slept in since he had to work 12 hour shifts and he deserved it. My bed was the rough, filthy carpet or floor in the place we were lucky enough to stay in. In some occasions I would hear my mom crying in depression to my dad, “Why did we come here?” The same question flooded my mind; I had given up my warm home in Mexico, my friends, and my family. But my parents were warriors, making the best of it and being optimistic; they would always fight and conquer the obstacles thrown at them.
Starting my educational career was extremely difficult. Words could not describe the intimidation and confusion I suffered when I entered the first grade in a small elementary school in Missouri. All of the teachers and students failed to comprehend my native language.
The first day was a nightmare. I ran home crying and frustrated, “Mommy, you don’t understand. Nobody understands me. I was lost. I don’t want to go back,” I demanded.
All she could do was hug me and tell me, “It will get better, I promise.”
The clock hit six indicating my dad was arriving from work. My mom explained my issues to him and he walked towards the kitchen cabinet and pulled out a small, unfamiliar book. It was an English to Spanish translator. Together, we spent five hours going over common,