Rolando Sacor, whom I owe the world to, has had to work hard to get to where he is in life today. He, like many others here today, migrated from his homeland. I had never really questioned my father about this and I now recognize why this is such an important aspect of his life. Now I’m so much more knowledgeable on his history and what this experience was like for him.
One of my biggest motivators, my father, was born on October 20, 1968 in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, where he lived all his early life. He was only 19 when he decided to travel thousands of miles to California, the decision that completely changed his life. Now we live in East Palo Alto and he has a full time job at a local university. His favorite activities are being with family, playing soccer, going out to nature or simply exploring, basically being out and about.
My father grew up in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where all his life, family, friends, experiences, and memories were based on. It was his home, where he grew up and where all his experiences were. He cared so much for his family, which is why he got up early every morning to go help his father in the fields. It was all difficult labor, just to get a plate of frijoles negros everyday. After hearing so much about los Estados Unidos and reflecting on his necessities, he realized a sacrifice had to be made. His knowledge was solely based upon what they had told him, he imagined it like a utopian society. In Guatemala, he had a poor education, and he realized this was the best choice for him, toward a brighter future for himself and his family.
This meant coming to look for a job and he planned to send money back. In Guatemala, the economy was poor and there were very few jobs, which was not the case in California. Because of this, he made the decision to migrate for his own good. The actual experience was so new and life changing. My dad was only a young adult, all he knew was what people told him. They made him imagine a utopian society. He recalled the cost being around 5,000 dollars for this transportation.
A friend recommended a coyote that guided him through Mexico’s frontier and into the United States. This man who smuggled him, with others, guided them to cross at the best of his ability. He entered through Tijuana at one in the morning, because he was told there was less security at this time since officials are switching turns. Throughout his trip he never felt safe, which made sense because a coyote’s job is never guaranteed to be done well. Crossing the river was the most difficult part for my dad. He crossed holding hands with others and they proceeded to run away as fast as they could. He recalls coming with two close friends, who were in a similar situation. They helped my father emotionally throughout the whole trip, but they weren’t as lucky.
When migrating they got lost in Tucson, Arizona and separated. He gloomily recalled that two of his closer friends were caught and he got lucky. He couldn’t let it stop him, he had to put himself first, even if that wasn’t what he was used to. The emotion he felt most was fear, but he learned to overcome it because it wasn’t helpful. A positive mindset was.
He ended up in East Palo Alto through the connections he had and he slowly went from there. He rented a small room at his friend’s. He needed to pay off his debt and began working as soon as he got here. He started at McDonald’s and continued there for 10 years. McDonald’s is also where he met my mother. He began distancing from his friend once he got married. Several years later he got the opportunity to improve his job. To this day, he’s glad to have taken this chance and appreciates it everyday.
Now that my father is in the United States he has become a resident and has gone several times to visit Guatemala. I got to go with him a few years ago and met many of my relatives. He could say he’s used to everything here because he’s been in California for almost 30 years. My father was forced to learn some English because everyone around him spoke it here. Today, he can understand and speak it a little. In el otro lado is where he met my mother and the perfect place for him to start his family. However, he has never forgotten where he is from. He constantly talks about it to me and he visits at least once a year. Even if he misses his family, he hasn’t lost contact with his siblings. My father appreciates the opportunity for work, that is the reason he was able to build his own house in Guatemala. Even tragedies have occurred, he recently lost his mother over there. He did travel back, but it wasn’t the same for him. However, with a smile on his face he revealed he feels beyond blessed with a family, good health, a home, and a stable job.
This story was written by Jenni Sacor after interviewing her father. She’s a student at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, CA.