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Lowell High School, Lowell, Massachusetts

My family and I came to America from Colombia, looking for the American dream. We thought that everything here would be easier, that we would have a better future and more opportunities. In Colombia, you don’t have a lot of opportunities for a good education or to find a good job. But I felt that I could have a home there, because no matter what happened, my mom was always there for me.

My stepfather had been living in the United States for 30 years. He had met my mom in Colombia through a friend and after a while they decided to get married and move back here. First, he came back to Colombia and brought my mom. Three months later he brought me.

It was easy to come here because we didn’t leave anyone behind. I mean, we left the food, but my mom always finds a way to cook Colombian food for us.

When we came, I was really excited to learn a new language and to know more about this country. I also was hoping to make a new home here. At first everything was so different, but I had my mom and my sister here, and that made me feel that I was home.

I started high school here when I was 16. I was so nervous my first day of school. I didn’t know English. I remember entering science class and my teacher asking me so many questions. I was so confused that my only answer to everything was yes. I remember this now and it’s kind of funny. Later I found many students who spoke Spanish, and they could help me with English.

At first my new life seemed great. My mom found a good job doing building maintenance, I was doing so well in school, and I was taking extracurricular classes to improve my grades and my English. I also had made a lot of friends from different countries. But then the rules in my home started to change and became very strict. I wasn’t allowed to see friends, stay after school in the library, or do homework with my classmates. In the beginning, I was okay with this. I knew I was new in this country and everything would be different.

But as I got older, I started to wonder, why can’t I have a normal teenager life? My mom would tell me that it was only to protect me. But I would still ask myself why. If I’m a good daughter and I have good grades and good behavior, why I can’t do anything outside my home?

I tried to talk to my parents to come up with a solution, but my stepfather would yell at me and wouldn’t try to listen. I realized I no longer felt safe at home. I started thinking about moving out right before I turned 18, but I was scared. I knew it would be difficult to face the world by myself. I decided to talk with my mom. She saw the situation and understood. She respected my decision, she wasn’t happy, but she still supported me.

I knew it was going to be a big challenge living on my own, but I had to try to continue my life and to excel in my studies. I found an apartment and a roommate. I already had a job to pay the rent.

Although I’m not living with my mother, I still want her to feel proud of me. I still talk to her everyday. I am thankful for my family; they gave me the opportunity to start a new life full of opportunities. But, even though I have a place to live, I feel that I am still searching for home. It has been a long and difficult road, but the word “surrender” is not for me.

© Camila. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.


  • Family
  • Migration
  • Loneliness, Doubt or Loss