Perhaps my brief history will not impress on some people as they start reading, but I will start by saying that when I came to this country, which was more than three decades ago, I came with many dreams, not just one. Many may ask how did I arrive? That is needless to say at this point. Back then it was difficult for me to achieve what I wanted, however, presently I have immersed myself in the opportunity to study and learn!
I dreamt about studying and learning English since the very first day I arrived here to the US.
Why do I say studying was difficult? As perhaps you’re wondering, let me tell you, I came to this country as many of you did, I came from Amatitán, Jalisco, Mexico as an undocumented immigrant, and being undocumented, meant having no rights here.
Then there were more struggles such as having little money due to the lack of a good job. Finding a good job to pay our studies was nearly impossible since I didn’t have the necessary documents. And finally, I had to deal with racism. The sentence, “go back to your country,” was one I heard one too many times. Being Latina was like a brand, a brand that set us apart. It set us apart by the our skin color, language, our traditions, and customs. It was not easy to blend in or be accepted three decades ago.
Nowadays, life here has changed, being undocumented doesn’t mean you have be held back from learning valuable skills that I have myself acquired! There are community programs where parents can take classes, and childcare is provided by professional childcare providers. Access to many of these programs has been a result of people who have fought and fight for human and civil rights. Thanks to all those who have fought for our needs and for labor rights. Three decades ago, being undocumented meant being limited and exploited in so many ways. Although the differences in race and class still exists, it’s not as bad as it was in the past, I can say this because I have lived it.
Therefore, if you are still reading this blog, I invite you to strive for a better life every day, regardless if you are documented or undocumented. If you have had the opportunity to go to college and obtain a degree, be a game changer for those who have yet to arrive there. If you are feeling lost and uncertain of where you are going, study and learn! Educate yourself, look for resources and help, they exist. Don’t let age be a factor in your future.
You can enroll into a community college, adult school at a local high school, or a elementary school and ask about English classes for parents/adults such as Fresno Adult School, which is a public school located at the Cesar E. Chavez Adult Education Center operated by the Fresno Unified School District in Fresno, California.
If you want to study, you have to have the desire to do so and not let barriers get in the way. You have to set high expectations for yourself and for your family so that you can have a better future.
Currently, you no longer need to be a resident or a citizen to take English classes. These classes are free at some community schools. There are many organizations for undocumented immigrants that have lists of resources which include English language classes.
I invite you to continue fighting to achieve your dreams, regardless if you came here undocumented or if you were born here. We are in this country to fight for a better life, and bettering yourself will open more doors.
You see friends, this is just a brief story of my life in this country, a country that was not mine. And today, despite many obstacles I have encountered I never forgot my dreams that I came here with. I recently started to study, and I feel very proud because I am a proof it is never too late. Now, after much work, study, sleeplessness, fatigue and some humiliation, I have succeeded. I am an American citizen! My next goals are to finish high school and then go to college.
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