Stories for Liberation: You Will Always Be Part of Me

Painting by Gwynne Duncan

Stories for Liberation: You Will Always Be Part of Me

 We start the fall season with a story by just one of the nearly 200 Hempstead High School newcomer students who worked with Herstory during the 2018-2019 school year. It is a story told over and over again by almost all of the newcomer students, of the decision to leave the grandparents who have been like their parents, to embark on that difficult and dangerous path to a country which will not assure them a welcome.  As each student raises his or her voice in this collage of voices, we continue to use their collected stories to give hope and healing to those who need it.   We continue to hope that those in power to make decisions might hear. 

You Will Always Be Part of Me

On May 15, I left home.  But it’s better to start from the beginning. Everything began one day when I spoke with my mother and said to her that I wanted to be with her. She answered that she was surprised because I had never told her that.  She said that she would arrange for me to come very soon.  I was very pleased and said that was good.

Time passed.  I didn’t hear anything more, nor did I say anything to my mother. I wasn’t thinking about the trip, when one afternoon she called.  First, she spoke with my grandmother for a long time.  I was very curious to know what they were talking about.

That night my grandparents called to tell me to have dinner with them, together the three of us. When we finished having dinner, I asked to be excused to do my homework. However, my grandmother told me that this was no longer necessary because tomorrow I was going to leave for the United States.  I shouted for joy, but I could clearly see my grandmother’s sadness.

Almost crying, she said to me “Child, if you want to be with your mother, fine, I respect your decision. And I will also tell you that if they have given you the opportunity to be there, take it and study hard so that when you grow up you will be a great professional.”

This is what my grandmother told me.

Then my grandfather came to me and told me that when I’m with my mother to behave myself, be respectful, and to do whatever she asks of me, and also to study hard so that I can be a success in life. In addition to this, he said something else that made me very sad.

He said: “Listen, my child. there are many people who when they go to the United States forget their families and embarrass their relatives.  Don’t be like that, don’t forget us, so that when you grow up, we will not be ashamed of you.”

I was sad because I knew it was the last time that I was going to see them, but I was also happy because after eight years I was going to see my mother again. And I said to them, “Be sure that I will never forget you. You will always be part of me.  I will always love you with all my heart. You are the most important people in my life, the apple of my eyes and I promise you that I will study hard so that when I grow up. I will be a professional. Remember that I will never forget you. I will pray to God that you live many years to see me graduate as a doctor.”

We talked some more and then went to bed. I could barely sleep thinking of my grandfather’s words. The night seemed to me seemed very long.

The next day I left the house very happily, but with sadness in my heart because I knew it was the last time I would see my grandparents. I hugged them and said goodbye. Then the coyote came and we traveled seven hours. We arrived that afternoon in Guatemala.  I was very tired, but that same night we took a bus and traveled through the night.  I was tired, but it was too uncomfortable to sleep on the bus.

By morning we reached the Mexican border.  There we stayed three days in a house with many people living in it, which made it difficult to rest or sleep because there were many children making a lot of noise.  Then we took another bus for five hours to a place called Reinosa where there was a large house with many people from different countries.

We stayed there for a week, eating only one bad meal a day, which I didn’t like but had to eat to keep my strength. Then we went to another house with people from many places where we were stayed for eight days waiting for a trailer to come.

On the day it arrived, even though there were so many of us, we all got in and continued traveling on for three more days inside that trailer where it was extremely hot and all we had was water to drink.  We got to a place where we were met by men with tattoos. I was very weak and felt like I was going to faint. I prayed to God to give me the strength to continue. A coyote took us to a house so we could rest.

Those three days were very difficult. After a week it was time to cross.  We walked for about an hour and immigration took us. We were taken to the “hielera” where I was separated from my uncle. They took me to a hostel. The first day was very hard because I didn’t know anyone, and everything was new to me. I had a lot of questions, but I spend the time making friends. I started getting used to the place. I was there two months and 15 days, but always spoke to my mother.  On the day I left for New York, I was sad because I had made a lot of friends and it was hard to say goodbye. I was in tears to be leaving them, but happy because I was going to see my mother.

I left at 1:00am to Dallas airport with a woman who was taking me. Then I took another flight to New York with another woman. When we arrived and I saw my mother, I ran towards her and hugged her tight. I was very emotional. We arrived home. Later we went shopping for shoes, clothes and what I needed most. We spoke for a long time and I told her about my journey.

Shortly, it was time for me to go start school and I was very anxious because it was such a big school. In the meantime, I prepared myself.

My first day of school arrived. I was extremely happy for I knew I was going to experience new things and meet new friends. Yet it was difficult because it was difficult to adopt to this new life. However, as time passed, everything was different.

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