Making a Change (Mexico)

I was born in the Jalisco, Guadalajara, Mexico in 1983. I lived with my Mom, Ana; my Dad, Rogelio; and my brother, Rogelio Jr. My Dad worked in the fields going back and forth to America while me and my family stayed in Jalisco. He was going back and for work so often that he came to us with an idea that he wanted us all to move to the U.S. Soon after going over it with everyone we decided to make the move. I and my family decided this because we were in need of better living opportunities for our family that we could not get in Mexico.

At first, I was not looking forward to it at all. I was totally against it and a little scared. I did not want to move because in my head I felt that we were moving for good and that I would not get to see my family or friends ever again. Eventually I was okay with it, because I  learned I would be able to come back to Mexico to visit. My little brother was very excited and my mother knew it would be hard but said there is nothing we could not accomplish. Soon after a long process and a lot of papers, it was happening.  We were moving when I was 8 years old.

This move was very challenging for me as I knew I was leaving behind all my family on my mother’s side. What I had to do to help me with the thought of moving was to remember I will always be able to come back and visit and my family. We had to move for a better life. Also making the transition was challenging because it was a lot of waiting at the border so I had to be patient while getting hungry. My family and I were so starved that we absolutely had to get something to eat so we got KFC. As I think back I remember my family and I running to the bus tired and hungry with a bucket of KFC as we waited patiently to make it to our destination in the U.S. Not to mention we almost missed the bus.

When we got in the states we came to my aunt’s house in Santa Maria, California for a couple of months. After staying there for a while my aunt thought it would be a good idea for us to move to the Bay Area for work and easy living. After my family talked it over, I had to move again but this time it was not a major move. I knew the move was going to be challenging because I was eight years old and did not know English and had to learn in six months. A little while after moving I was dealing with discrimination because I was Latina. When we moved to Redwood City, I enrolled in Willow Oak Elementary School and I was placed in ESL classes because I didn’t know English. I was also placed in the lowest of the low classes because they assumed I was not intelligent enough to be in regular ones. Every year I had to go to the district and take a test to be in the mainstream classes. I felt left out and realized I was being treated unfairly.

One thing that took some getting used to was the time I started school. In Mexico, I usually started in the afternoon so I had to adjust and I had to learn to get up in the morning and go to school at 8am like a regular American. At my school, I felt advanced in all my classes since I was put in the low classes until I proved myself. To myself, I knew it was all part of the process and just went along. Overall I feel this move was good for my family and even for me because I now have opportunities most people do not get.

This story is based on an interview by Alfredo Jack, a student at Palo Alto High School. 

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