By Paula Ramirez
Being an immigrant student is hard. Going to another country where you do not know anyone and do not speak the language can be a bit a complicated. When you leave your country, you are afraid that other people will not accept you as you are or where you come from. You are afraid they will simply judge you by your appearance. You are nervous that the change affects you completely, and that you will not see your relatives anymore. You feel nervous that everything you have in your life - your friends, your family, your home - will you leave you completely and that is the hardest part of all this, since you know that you are going to experience a new life.
I know that, here, I have better opportunities to learn good things. Some days are good and others not so much, but you always have to be patient, because good things come in time. I think you always have to find the good side to a negative situation. Though at the beginning there is a price to pay, in time, you will see it is worth it. You have to prove to yourself that you can get ahead on your own and succeed. Take advantage of opportunities that the new life gives you.
When I moved to here from Ecuador, I felt all the ways that I mentioned. I lived there for 16 years, and when I moved to Carle Place, I felt emotional, and at the same time sad, because I did not have friends. I was too shy to talk to people, because I only know a little bit of English, and I was thinking, “I can't do this.” I just wanted to go back to my country and have my life there, only coming here for my vacations, not to live here. Every day I was crying because I knew that I did not want to be here. I was always dreaming that one day I would wake up and be in my country again, but I knew it could never happen. It was just my dad and me. My mom came after with my brother, so it was more depressing, I was always alone in the house, so I always passed time in my room watching movies or programs all day long. I only left my room to eat food and go to the bathroom. That was my life when I came here.
I remember when I was a little girl, I had difficulty making friends, and that was the worst part. My parents always changed my schools a lot, so every school that I went to, the only thing that I was thinking at that time was, “Here we go again.” Meet new people, make friends, and try find a group. And that is what I thought when I was going to enter Carle Place. I was going to be the new girl again, the one who everyone looked at with a strange face. But as I went from day to day, I met people who spoke to me and I to them. The teachers also advised that I not be sad because I was going to improve over time. That helped me not to be so afraid and not feel so bad about the big change I had made in my life, and over the months, I made good friends. I learned there are good teachers that you can trust because they are always there for you, and they make you feel protected and confident in yourself. Then I started to see the school as a place where I could get out of my comfort zone and where I could be me.
I know that my parents only want the best for me. They want to see good things for my future and that of my brother. That is why they made this decision, and I know that, for them, too, this is difficult. Although it sounds so easy to say, to just come, study and work, but when it is so, you realize the reality. Over time I learned that things are not always as you want them to be, however much you want them. But sometimes the changes are good, even if you do not believe it in the moment. In spite of everything, in the time that has passed, my experiences here have made me consider Carle Place as my second home, where I have learned and am learning new things every day. It makes me a better person in the things I do, like having dreams and aspirations in life. It teaches me that I can reach my goals if I intend to, to be strong, and to move forward. You just have to think and be positive, because things alone have their own meaning, and to show that my effort is worth it, so that my parents feel proud of me, and see that their sacrifice has not been in vain.
I always have to remind myself that no matter what others say or think, I just have to trust myself, I am the only one who can judge myself, I need to try to be someone in life for myself, and I should feel very proud of myself. To any new immigrant students, remember that every sacrifice has its reward, and no matter how many times you fall, what is important is that you not stop and go ahead. Many will judge you and close the doors, but do not let that stop you from following your dreams. All the effort you put to what you propose will bring you good things in your life in the future. You can succeed and reach far, where you least expect it, just for the simple fact that you believed in yourself, and went step by step. If you have faith and want to prove that Latinos and immigrants also have the same will and desire to get ahead, like any person in the world, keep trying, because we are valuable, no matter what country we live in around the world.