Heritage Article | Teen Ink

Heritage Article

September 11, 2014
By Anonymous

“Giving back to my family is ultimately the most importhing thing to me”, that's what my aunt Carmen deemed as the most significant part of her life. My aunt grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico. When most people think of Mexico, luxury and fancy things don't neccissarly come in mind right away. That's mostly because it has this bad connotation that it is a poor country and everyone in it is poor. That's not neccesarily true, because just like in every country there are people who own more than others. In Mexico, some people are lucky and have the oppurtunity to live in better conditions than others such as living in a nice house and maybe even having fancy cars. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for my aunt and her family. In her family, the only income that was brought home was from his dad, since he was the only one that worked while her mother stayed home being a housewife. This kind of situation isn’t rare in Mexico, it’s actually typical in the Mexican culture. Due to his dad being the only one working, they encountered difficult situations on the daily and things weren’t easy for her and her siblings. She didn’t own a lot of materialistic things nor did she want any. "Growing up, me and my siblings knew the situation we were in and we knew better than to ask for things we couldn’t afford such as excessive amounts of toys and clothes." she said. This says and shows a lot about my aunt Carmen. First of all, it shows how understanding she was about the economic crisis that her parents were experiencing and because of that she learned to value what’s really important to have in life. I also know this because as she grew up, she realized that materialistic things weren’t important since they didn’t last forever. She knew that instead of thinking about materialistic things, she wanted to work work hard for what she wanted which was to be successful in life. She always did the very best that she could possibly do, and sometimes she would push herself to do even better.

But it wasn't always hard work. When it was time for summer break she knew that it was time to spend it all with her family. "Every time summer vacations came around, me and my family would go to my aunts ranch. We would play with all the farm animals and enjoy family time outside overlooking the whole ranch! " My aunt grew up with family always being by her side to support her and comfort her, especially her dad. One of the things that she still remembers is how when she was only in kindergarten her mom would shower her, then her dad would change her into her pajamas, tuck her in bed, gave her a warm bottle of milk and told her and her sister a bedtime story. "In fact, it was always the same story that he told us, but I loved the fact that it was because after hearing it so many times, I’m now able to remember it myself.” She said.

When she was in first grade she wanted to hold her classrooms flag which was one of the biggest traditions in her school. The student that had the best grades would hold the flag while signing their national anthem. To her that was something she always wanted to do but it wasn't possible because she struggled with her academics. Soon that changed because when she got to fifth grade, she finally accomplished her goal. She got to hold the flag while singing the national anthem. Getting to do that was amazing, but she worked extra hard for it.

" I had a really demanding teacher who was super strict, so in order to accomplish my goal I had to push myself to get good grades and have excellent behavior." She told me. That's when I really realized that she was a person who strived for success regardless of the struggles she had to go through.She wouldn’t do it to show off to other people, but she did it for herself. She wanted to prove to herself what she was capable of doing.One of her other goals and dream career was to become a cosmetologist. "I always imagined myself doing makeup for famous people and doing their hair!" She said. She only went to school for a small amount of time to become a cometologist. Even though that dream of hers didn't become a reality she was still happy and satisfied with how far she got.

My aunt Carmen knew that for her, education was extremely important and when it came to choosing between school and her family it was extremely difficult for her. She struggled a lot because when her father became extremely ill she had to put aside her dedication to school and and get a job. "That was proably one of the hardest disisions of my life, I knew that if I didn't find a job we would eventually become homeless." That's what she thought because her father was no longer working. So when she had to become the family provider, she knew it was a huge roll and a lot of responsibility. She had to experience adult hood at a very young age. She was no longer able to enjoy going to school and enjoy her time with friends after school. Having to work for such little pay also made her very desperate. That's when she started talking to people that had been to the U.S before. " People said amazing thing about the United States and how people were full of opportunities to having a good life." She said. She also mentioned how all the people that have never been to the U.S think that it's all luxury life over there and that everybody is rich. That there is no such thing as poverty here in the U.S and she thought the same.

That's what lead her to her next journey in her life. Coming to the United States at 15 was very difficult, she didn't have any of her family with her except her older brother that came here for the same reasons. In her mind she thought it was going to be exactly what other people had told her. It hit her like a ton of rocks, when she immediately realized that it wasn't the way people said it was. It was the complete opposite for her, " I was too young, and nobody wanted to give me a job. " she told me. For my aunt the U.S was a place where she would come and make a lot of money right away. Another problem that became prominent was that she was not able to speak English. That affected her in so many ways, she said that in order to be successful in the U.S you must know how to speak English. But that did not stop my aunt from trying. She continued to look for jobs until she finally got a job working for a "white" male that made her be a housewife basically. Cleaning the house, washing dishes, ironing clothes and taking care of the guys daughter was her way of making some money. It wasn’t a great amount of money either because she only got paid 60 dollars a week. To add to that, "I worked from sun up to sun down," she told me in a sad voice. But that was one of the sacrifices she had to go through in order to make money for her parents.

Eventually, she got used to it but was still not pleased with her life. She felt as if life in Mexico was more free and here it was closed in. She struggled because in her hometown she could take the bus to where ever she wanted to go. “you don't need a car to go buy food, go to the park, go clothes shopping, in mexico there is a bus that can take you everywhere.” That was something that got under her skin, not being able to go places. But no matter all those obsticalso she persisted through everything.

Her dream was to "Come to the U.S, get a job, buy a house for my parents, and then go back.” She is very pleased with herself because she accomplished all of that except that she never got the part to go back. She was unable to go back because she found her husband here and she started a family here aswell. Not only that but time was flying by quickly and then eventually both of her parents passed away. Of course she was sad, but she also felt joy because she got to give back to her parents as much as they gave to her. That was really important to her. Now as an adult her dream is to go back to school and learn how to fluently speak english.

The author's comments:

I hope that people learn how different an older persons American dream is compared to ours. 

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