Studying is something I always have wanted since I was a girl

I arrive to the United States when I was 28. One day somebody told me “you are nothing because you don’t know English”, then I remembered that when I was a child I learned the alphabet letters by gluing them in a paper with pumpkin shell liquid. Similar to what I used the liquid from the squash shell to glue the ABCs, in life I had to take some other options to succeed. Being the second daughter of 3 kids from a single mother in a new city without a house or family, was not easy to go to school. We were 3 children studying so my mother did not have enough money to pay for school but thanks to her hard work and some neighbors’ help we finished elementary school. My oldest brother had the opportunity to go to high school sadly he took bad choices and left school in the first year. One year later I was going to high school but I could not go because my mother was very disappointed after my brother behavior at high school. My youngest sister was studying at middle school so I had no other choice than to start working at age 11. I don’t know how to explain exactly that deep and big wish that I had to study because in elementary school I used to dream awake, I dream going to high school with my clean uniform and to the university doing my homework with my classmates. I am 35 now and that wish to study still here deep in mind and in my heart, the big difference is that I am not dreaming I am doing it. It is not easy, but I must to try.

Elementary school was the place where I lived several good and bad moments. During elementary school years I was shy, quiet and inattentive. Despite of them were not perfect I did all of my homework and my projects. I had not a favorite subject at that time because as a little girl while I was learning I also used to play a lot with my friends at school and after school too. My mother was working a lot of hours until 6:00 or 9:30 pm, so that after school I went to a municipal lunch room to eat, then I spent one hour playing , and finally I went home to clean and after and then I did my homework. It was my routine from Monday to Friday. I remember one day when I had a scary moment. I was 7 when my father went to school and tried to meet my brother and me. After 6 years without see him I was in shock because I thought he may try to take us with him to his home, thank God teachers and my fiends helped me to calm down. After that everything was the same routine. My homework was not complicated, but what made it not easy was that we had limited school supplies. No desk, no computer, no extra pencil, my uniform sewn in several parts. My mother taught me how to use other things to solve my needs for example instead a sharpener I used a knife, or the squash shell instead a glue, recycle newspaper to cut my letters for homework instead a book. I was happy with those single moments and those simple things I had during those years at my loved “Panama elementary school.” Really difficult years came during my adolescence.

I saw one of my dreams became true when I was 16. I was working in the cafeteria of a middle school. The owner of it asked me if I had finished elementary school and why I did not went to high school. I told him the true, then he helped me to register in a night high school where he was a computer teacher. During the first 3 months I wanted to leave high school because had passed 5 years that I did not touch a book to read. At the same time I remembered my dreams about studying and then I took a deep breath to continue. At the end of that year I did not give several tests due to my good score I did not need more points. My professors, my boss and I were happy with my effort. My boss’ wife got pregnant and she was very weak so they moved to another city where their family lived. My family had to move in the same year because the owner of the farm where we lived died. I found another job in a restaurant, but the owners were very different and sometimes they did not allow me to do my homework during free times. On the other side my new neighborhood was dangerous. Here there were a big traffic of cannabis and my neighbors were not rude with us, but we had to deal in a good manner with them being their “friends”. Some relatives told me that I had to stop my studies because I arrived home too late and it was true. Night high schools were from 6:50 to 10:00 pm. I did not listen to them and I moved to another high school closer to my new home. It represented a big change in my life since some of my neighbors were studying in the same school. I used to walk home and sometimes my new friends walked with me. It gave me a kind of relief because they did not act like criminals with me.

I was 17 and I was a girl that never went out to a party without my mother and now I was free and I was experienced a new kind of life because my friends did things totally new for me such as drink, smoke cigarette or marihuana, that was something I never did before. From 9th grade to 12th grade I went to the same high school living in the same environment trying to put limits between my friends’ behavior and my school goals. In addition, at that time subjects were more difficult for me, also in my new job I did not have enough time to do my homework. All of those changes in my life affected my score, however it was not a reason to leave the school. In spite of accounting implied to learn administration, mathematics and statistics I loved that. I really enjoyed those days trying to finish my accounting projects spending hours and hours matching dates and transactions in order to find the correct result. I took a decision when I was 19 I got marry. I had my 2 daughters then I left school for 2 years. Although, I lost those 2 years, I went back and finally I graduated from high school. After that my plan was to go to the Normal Superior College to study in order to become an elementary school teacher, but I did not know that life had a different plan for me in another country (United States.)

My second home, the United States gave me the opportunity to start the college I am very grateful for that. After living 2 months in this country I started my 4 months English’s classes in N.Y. After that I moved to New Jersey where I registered to English classes at U.C.C place where I spend the most beautiful hours in life. I finished level 6 of English a year ago. Study here is even more difficult because English is not my first language and I have a big responsibility with my husband, my 3 daughters, a big husky, 5 fishes, a part-time job and full-time college classes. Nowadays I am trying to finish my second semester. I am not the best student but I love to learn something new every day. English’s classes, compositions, transitional words, verbs, sociology, psychology, mathematics and so on, I be honest they give me hard time looking, reading, writing and googling for the meaning of the words and their correct use. But I am here seeing my dreams become true little by little.

In conclusion, several years ago when I was living few months in this country a person humiliated me because I did not know English. Poor person was lack of empathy. The worst part is that the same person is who tells me every day, “you are wasting time going to college, go to take care of your daughters, go to work full-time, leave the college,” but I don’t main about that because that wish to study was inside me always. I will be a good example for my daughters. Also I am sure that I will be the first person in my family that will graduate from college. It was not easy up to now, life makes changes, but after God we are our own guides. Every single day life teach us something new, but is our decision to fall down or to take that experience to build something good.

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