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My positive self-image was difficult to create, even more when I have so much going on in my life, including the fact that my parents got divorced after being together for 17 years. They had been living separated for two years already, my dad lived here in Newark with my two younger brothers, and my mom and I lived in Ecuador. But it was October of 2014, when my mother and I decided that it was time to move on. It was time to look for a new opportunity to make sure our future would be different than what Ecuador had to offer.
It was then, when we started packing for the long trip. It wasn’t easy, it didn’t happen from night to day, but no one ever said it was impossible.
The trip took 21 days until we got to the border, in that time we had passed through Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and at last Mexico. I say that Mexico was the toughest, we had to take a bus that took days to get to the next exchange point.
There, we met other immigrants, or “mojados” like the “poblanos” called us. Everyone had a horrifying story. And once we got to the border, everything got worse. We walked for 3 days and 3 nights, with almost no water or food. I remember that we only ate one time a day and drank such a small amount of water.
It was the third night of walking when we got caught by the border patrol.
After 8 hours of an intense interrogation the officers finally let us free under their conditions, which said that we had to go to every court and appointments assigned by the judge. We had to get a lawyer and I had to keep going to school while I was still a minor. We came to live in Newark, in the Ironbound section, we didn’t know how to move around in this new environment. We didn’t know the people, or how to get a job, (at that time I had no intentions to go back to school), and I only knew basic words in English. But after some days passed, my mother decided to leave. It was there, when my life changed completely.
It was then when I had to become more responsible. My father was always there for us, but a strong household will always need a woman. After getting settled with all that was going on in my life, I chose to make my own decisions, without thinking about the past, or the present. When I decided to back to school, I knew it was going to change my future, and it was for good so I will never regret it.
The experiences I had crossing the border and taking my mother’s responsibilities, (within helping my father take care of my two brothers), helped me become the type of person that I am today. “The hunger to be proud”, as Nilsa Mariano mentioned in her story “Hunger’. Is what motivates me the most to be who I am today. I think that if I hadn’t been through all those fazes in my life, I wouldn’t have the personality that I have today. I wouldn’t probably even have thought about going to college.
A positive self-image isn’t something that we can create in one or two days. It takes time, experience and positivity to overcome our fears and see ourselves as that strong person who did something that many would never even dare to think about. I’m still young and I know I still have many errors waiting for me to commit. But the person I see today, when I look in the mirror, is the person who I feel proud of. At last, the problems that were presented in the past helped create a present of which I am proud of today.
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