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My Personal Story

RWC tutor Gricelda Sanchez gives the story behind her moving to the U.S.

I grew up in the lovely town of Maritas, Guanajuato, in Mexico, surrounded by family and friends. Maritas is a small town that is two blocks long, and everyone knows everyone. I lived with my grandma and aunt in a pink-colored house with a black fence surrounding the home. There was a huge black gate, which seemed so tall to me growing up, but now, thirty years later, it is just a regular black gate. I played with all the kids in the block, walked to the town store, went to a small school, and played with the Barbies that my dad would bring back from the Norte (North).

My dad spent many months in the United States working to provide for the family, while my mom, brother, and I had to manage with what money he would send us. Although we lived with my grandma, we were poor. My mom had an adobe kitchen where I remember her sweeping the dirt while I thought, “W"y is she sweeping dirt? The kitchen is all dirt!” I didn't see the point, but she still tried her best to keep it tidy. Although we were poor with an absent father, I was extremely happy. I loved my life in Mexico until one day, my mom told me we were going to the Norte. I yelled in protest, but she calmed me down by saying, "Don't Worry, we are only visiting. We will come back!”."However, we never went back.

I crossed the border with my brother, aunts, and uncles at age six. They brought my brother and me to Long Beach to live with one of my mom’s sisters. My mom was on her own, crossing the border with a Coyote (a person who crosses one over illegally). We lived with my aunt and uncle for a few weeks, but it seemed like months to me. I soon realized I had to help my aunt take care of my brother, who is mentally disabled. My brother had had a very high fever in Mexico, and the nearest hospital was hours away. By the time my mom reached the hospital, my brother had suffered brain damage due to a high fever. Because of this, my aunt did not know what to do with my brother, so I had to step up and protect him. Weeks later, my mom came home in the middle of the night, and we traveled for hours to a small town in Orosi to live with my dad and uncle. Years later, we moved to a home out in the country with no air conditioning and no heater. We spent thirteen summers and winters in that home with one chimney and one cooler. I hated it here and soon hated it more when I went to school. I didn't understand their culture and wanted to go home. The kids would pick on me because I didn't know English.

Not long after, I was taught English and began to make friends, but I still wanted to go home. My first winter here in California I did not have a sweater. I remember freezing outside during recess, and one teacher told me to follow her. She took me to the lost and found box and asked me to pick out a jacket. I picked out a pink colored teddy jacket, to which the teacher said I could keep it. I used that jacket till it did not fit anymore, in fact, I had to do that with all my clothes. Although we suffered a lot as a Hispanic family, I now understand how important it was for my parents to come to the United States. My brother, who is mentally disabled, got the doctors he needed, and I got a better future. I realize now that many immigrant families come to the U.S. to better themselves and their children because the country in which they come from does not offer what the Norte does. And I am forever grateful for the great sacrifices that both my parents had to make. My mom had to leave her parents, and my dad had to leave his family. All this for my brothers and me to be something more.

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