We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofKaterin Castro Cruz

When I was eleven-years-old, my mom decided to bring me to the United States. It was very difficult to leave my country of Honduras because I have lived there all my life. The day I arrived in the United  States was very hard for me because I did not understand English. When I went to school, everything changed. I was an adolescent, and I didn’t listen to anyone. I thought that my friends were more important than my family and my schoolwork. When I was fourteen-years-old, it was my first year in high school.  I met many different people at school, but I chose people that were not good for me. I had a very ugly attitude; I did things that showed I didn’t care about the outcome or who I hurt. I just thought about my friends and myself. I did not think about others. My friends and I would always laugh at other people, and we frequently bothered people who didn’t do anything to us. We just did it to show how cool we thought we were. We didn’t think about how much we were hurting others.  A year passed, and I continued with my problems; I didn’t change. No- body could make me think differently. One day my mother told me, “I’m pregnant; I need you to change.” She didn’t want me to have problems and didn’t want to always be worried about me when she had a baby. I didn’t listen. It didn’t matter what she said, or what anyone said. They had great intentions and hope for me, but their words were stupid to me and I didn’t care.  One day, I had a problem with a girl, and I got into an awful fight with her and her friends at school. That day, the school talked to my mother, telling her that I was going to be suspended for two weeks and would be having a court date. Also, they said they didn’t want me at school anymore because I could be influencing other students with this bad behavior. When the day of my court appearance came, my mom got really sick and almost lost the baby. The stress I was causing her was hurting her and the baby.  That day impacted my life forever. I was too ashamed to look at my mom and see her suffering because of me. The days went by, and my mom got better. I decided to have a serious conversation with her about all the dam- age I had done to her. I begged her to help me change. She said “I can help you, but you have to do your part.”  After a few days passed, I found out the school was going to give me one last chance. They accepted and helped me to be able to change my attitude a little more. They helped me to be a better person and respect others. Talking with social workers and teachers helped me a lot. Many will wonder why I acted the way I did. I think it has been hard for me not to grow up with a dad. My dad suddenly stopped communicating with me, and that hurt a lot. I always wondered why my father decided to stop talking to me.  But in spite of all the problems I had, and not growing up with a dad, and because of the people who helped me, I learned that I should respect others and not hurt people. I have learned that you don’t need two parents to grow up. I don’t need my father because I have a strong and beautiful mother who will always be there for me. I always say that your problems help you to learn, as long as you are yourself. 

© Katerin Castro Cruz. 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.