In my Guatemalan Eyes

America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. At first I was not brave, but afraid of what came from this unexpected journey day in and day out. The atmosphere was different; there were no longer adobe homes and women on the street selling vegetables to get their daily earnings to feed their families. I missed it. Not seeing my grandmother everyday and not feeling the freshness of the produce from our own garden. But, my mother said, “We had to do this, for our future.” I was only two years old when I crossed the border and moved from Guatemala to the United States of America. That was 13 years ago.

Every year about 1,000,000 immigrants arrive to the U.S. and 60% of those people have no place to go. Luckily, my father came a couple months before we did and we stayed with a friend for a while. My family and I didn’t know how to speak English, not even enough to get by. My mother and father couldn’t find jobs because they were not documented. Everyday we lived in constant fear of being deported. My parents had to find jobs where they stayed under the radar, many of these jobs paid less than minimum wage.

As I grew older I also grew more and more sick. I did not let my parents know for about one year. I remember seeing my mother cry after coming back from work and looking up at the ceiling whispering, “Oh help me God, for little Andrea.” She later found out about a job where she could take classes to work in asbestos, so she did. On a good day she would leave the house at 3 a.m. and come home at 10 p.m. I was now six years old and had to start school.

I was terrified. The only English I knew was from watching “Dora the Explorer.” When someone came up to me, I froze in confusion feeling frazzled and irritated. I had to be assigned a personal translator and all I could remember from grades K-3 is coming home on some days and crying to my mom telling her I wanted to go home. I think my biggest motivation was when she would kiss me on the head, wipe my face and tell me, “We are home princess.”

At the age of seven we decided it was time I received a little sister. Along came Melany, but there also came endless fights from my parents and miscommunications, along with things my father did to disrespect my mother. So, as a powerful woman looking for a brighter future, my father was no longer in the picture. To be quite honest, I liked it that way. I was now in the fourth grade and I knew how to speak English. I translated for my mother whenever she seemed to be struggling. But upon returning from school one afternoon, I saw a small Spanish to English book, and my mother was trying too.

My mother worked towards getting a lawyer in order for us to become Americans. We both wanted to strive in this country. I wanted to do it for my mother and grandmother. And my mother, for us, the love that women have for each and every one of my siblings astonishes me to this day. She met the love of her life in 2012 that brought us from Washington D.C. to Kearney, NE. My stepfather is a resident. He is also a kind, loving soul who gives us endless support.

After what seemed like endless paperwork, court dates and interrogations, I became a United States resident at the age of 13. My mother is now also a resident, and has a well-paying job at the University of Kearney Nebraska. My stepfather, who has lived here for 13 years, just received his citizenship in July 2018. As for me, I am now a bilingual, hardworking, Hispanic resident of the U.S. I will be receiving my citizenship at the age of 19 alongside my mother.