We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofCecilia Galvez

As Albert Einstein once said, "You never fail until you stop trying." That has been the story of my life. Failing but continuing to try to improve. I learned to overcome impossible obstacles at a young age. Even though my Spanish and English skills weren't strong, I would help my mom with ordinary things such as translating for her in conferences or translating her mail that arrived in Spanish or in English. I would also fill out any necessary paperwork that she struggled with. I felt strange reading sensitive information at such a young age but I eventually got used to helping my mom with the things she needed. I especially remember one fateful trip… 

It was the winter of 9th grade when my mom decided to go to Mexico to visit her family. My mom doesn't know how to read and write, so my older sister entrusted me to guide my family to safely reach our destination in Mexico. I agreed that I would be the one in charge. We had to take two planes to reach our destination. Throughout the journey, I was worried that I would make a mistake, which would delay our arrival time, and then everyone would be disappointed in me. We had safely concluded part of our journey, landing in the airport without problems, but soon the troubles and anxiety kicked in. We had barely landed in the airport,  transitioning to the other plane when I realized that I accidentally led my family out of the terminal. I didn't know what happened. It hit me that we had to transition to a plane that was about to leave in a few minutes. I wasn't supposed to leave the terminal gate but we were now standing at the building entrance and had to once again go through a time-consuming security checkpoint. I had one task and I failed. We were lost and I was embarrassed. I froze up. And spiraled into a meltdown. Through my tears, I asked my mom what I should do. I could read and speak two languages. I was supposed to be able to help my mom. I was supposed to be our leader. Out of nowhere, my mom started to ask for help. She told me not to make a big scene and she handled the situation. She approached an officer about our tight situation and informed my mom that the plane was about to leave. She allowed us to cut in front of the large group of people, trying to scan our stuff as fast as possible. The guard gave us instructions on where to go and we ran as fast as we could. Eventually, we made it on time. Barely having any time to think about anything that we just went through. 

I sat in my seat as the plane soared in the sky trying to process what happened. I came to the realization that I still needed to grow. In the future, instead of standing there, as I did, I have to stop, think, ask for help because in one way or another, service doesn't come to you. I also understood that I needed my mom more than she needed me. She was calm and found her way through all of these situations. I may be gaining confidence in myself, but I will not forget that before I was able to soar, I first took my first steps with the help of my mom.

© Cecilia Galvez. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.