My mother, Guadalupe De Los Ángeles was born in San Salvador in 1969. She is my mother and first immigrated to California. She currently works at Kaiser Hospital as a personal care assistant (pca) and occasionally takes Zumba classes.
My mom is the youngest of 7 children. She lived with her parents up until she immigrated. Her brothers were very kind but also very mean to her at times. The only person she would go to for help was her sister who was the only one that was kind to her. They were a very humble family since they lived in poverty. They only lived with the basics and never really had any luxuries. This was one of the reasons she wanted to emigrate to the US. She was told by her friends that the US held many opportunities to earn money and prosper. She was also told that it was nicer and the government actually helped its citizens. That was another motive to leave. Her government didn’t help its citizens out of poverty and left them to fend for themselves. Finally, she decided to leave at the age of 19 by herself since her family couldn’t afford to send anybody else.
She had a very rough journey. She didn’t really have any friends on her journey and was always scared. She would cry because of how scared she was and the people there yelled at her to hurry up since she was slowing the group down. My mom traveled in the roads for 15 days. They had to cross rivers and she remembers being really cold since she didn’t carry much clothing with her. She got sick and slowed the group down. It didn’t really help her situation since the people there yelled at her even more. There were times when she felt hopeless and wanted to give up. The only thing pushing her to keep going was the belief that things were gonna get better in the long run.
When she finally got here she was picked up by her cousin who then took her to stay with her in Redwood City, California. She remembers her first house in America being quite small. She was still very thankful and blessed to be living there. In the first few days, her cousin took her to go buy all of her necessities she needed. She didn’t understand many people since everybody was speaking English. She saw that houses were built differently and the food was very different. She liked the Mexican food here since they didn’t have much in Salvador. Already, she missed her family and cried at night.
After a few months she settled in a bit and had her first job. She worked at Yogurt Stop for 6 months and made a new friend. Her name was Veronica and together, they went to English classes. My mom also learned a lot of the area through Veronica’s sister. It was around this time when my mom was no longer sad. She would send money back to Salvador. She felt proud of herself because it was the first time she had helped her parents out financially. A few months later she met my dad. They met at a friend’s party and their friend introduced them. Her first impressions of him was that he was very handsome. They grew a very friendly relationship and soon moved in together. He helped her out a lot by giving her a place to live when she had nowhere else to go. This was also the time in her life when one of her brothers in Salvador died. His name was Jerman and he died when my mom was 33. By her memory, he was very handsome and always took care of her when they were younger. He was very rebellious but he was very caring and kind. She was sad she was not able to see him one more time before he died. She was not even able to see his funeral.
Now, my mom feels as if she has adjusted to the new environment. She has learned the language even though she still isn’t very fluent. She can still keep a conversation. She has adopted some cultures from the US but has also stayed with her roots. She still cooks foods from Salvador and celebrates her day of independence. She occasionally likes to cook foods that originate from different cultures as she feels the US is a melting pot of cultures. She still thinks about going back to Salvador only to visit and see her family still there. She is glad of all the decisions she has made because of how successful she currently is and because of all her wonderful children. Not once has she ever regretted coming here because of how great her life has turned out – better than she even imagined.
This story was written by Guadalupe’s son, a student at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, CA.