“When we went out, the way my mom dressed and how she talked was funny to other people. You didn’t have to know much English to know they were making fun of her; the pointing and laughing gave it away. I thought, ‘How can I help her? How can I defend her?’ At first I felt embarrassed and like I needed to tell her, but at the same time, I thought, ‘Well, to us that’s normal.’ I didn’t think she was dressed weird or that she talked weird. I felt useless because I didn't know what to say back to them. Even later, when I had the right words, there was so much pain and anger that I couldn’t get them to come out. That stuck with me because it didn’t just happen one time. It was over and over. It made me realize how important it was to learn how to express myself so that I could defend my family. The few times my mom and I have talked about it, she’s just laughed and said, ‘Don’t worry. I didn’t care. I didn’t know what they were saying.’ But I knew. I knew what they were doing was wrong. She said, ‘Sometimes you just have to let things go. It’s the best thing to do.’ She looked at it as normal, as okay, but it wasn’t okay to me. She did tell me once, ‘Thank you for trying to look out after me.’ Now if I run into people who hate immigrants and hate the way we look, it doesn’t hurt as much. It’s not very important. Now I’m like, ‘Whatever.’ I’m more like my mother. They say something, they look at me weird, and I don’t care. If I need to, I’m able to say something back now. Not in a rude way, but in a polite way, using better manners than they have shown.
“I’m glad I learned two languages and that I’m able to use both well. I work with 3-5 year-olds at Mi Escuelita, a bilingual preschool, and I’m in college, majoring in Elementary Education and Special Education. I love where I am and what I do.”