We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofFatima Acosta

I never thought about the economic problems that my family was hav- ing when I lived in Mexico. My dad moved to Guadalajara City, leaving my two brothers, my mom, and me. My brothers and I couldn’t under-  stand the stressful situation that my mom was having because of a lack of money to pay bills, food, and other necessities. We were living in a ranch in Zacatecas, Mexico. There weren’t any jobs there; the only place you could get one was a little town about twenty-five minutes away by car, but we didn’t even have a car.  My mom never gave up because she was always looking for any way to make money. She used to clean houses and make food for parties, Mexican snacks like little cakes and fried chips for my older brother and me to go out and sell. I never felt ashamed. Of course, there were negative people who tried to make us feel bad for what we were doing. I remember these kids who were in the same grade as my older brother chasing us while we were walk- ing the cows to the cattle pen. They were saying mean things to my brother about the way we lived and how we sold food on the streets. I didn’t care what they said, but my brother tried to defend himself. They beat him up, but that never stopped us from continuing to do what we needed to do to help our mom.  My mom never missed a month of rent, but one day the owner of the house called and told her she needed the house back, and we needed to move out. My dad and my mom were working on constructing our own house, but the process was pretty slow; they had been working on it for eight years. It was at that moment that we decided to move to the United States, to make money to finish constructing our house. When she told me we were moving to the U.S., I had a mixture of emotions. I was excited and worried at the same time.  The day we moved, I woke up early; I barely even slept because I couldn’t stop thinking about my future living in another country. When I was leaving home, I felt like everything was going to change. I knew my life wouldn’t be the same.  We traveled on a bus for about thirty-six hours. I was really tired when we arrived in Chicago, and the first thing I saw when we got off the bus was my oldest brother waiting for us. The climate felt pretty different from my hometown’s, and the air was really hot, so hot that I got a headache right away.  When we arrived at my brother’s apartment, he didn’t have food, or beds... nothing. All my brother had was a stereo, a chair, and some blankets. I laid down on the fluffy carpet and fell asleep.  My mom struggled to find a job since she didn’t have any experience in factories or restaurants, but she is a hard worker, which makes her a woman with lots of experience. My dad needed money, but my mom’s only job wasn’t enough to pay bills and send money to Mexico, so she got a second job in the afternoons. The only time that I could see her was over the week- ends. All I wished was to be able to help her. I wanted to get a job and help, but back then I was only fourteen-years-old.  Over the time being here, I struggled a lot. I had a lot of problems socially as well as mentally. I have been through a lot, but I never gave up. There were moments when I felt like I wasn’t going to make it, but I’m still standing here. 

© Fatima Acosta. 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.