News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Old stories, new faces

Since 2007 I've hosted, a website where immigrants to the U.S. from all over the world can tell their stories in their own words. This week I received a series of similar stories, all from Phoenix, Arizona. This had never happened before. One of the stories mentioned a class called "English Innovations." After Googling the term in Phoenix, I discovered this course is part of the evening curriculum at Maricopa Community College. The reason behind the series of stories quickly became clear. Posting these stories to the website was evidently a class assignment for people learning to communicate in English.

As a child, my mother took English classes at the local high school. She attended these lessons after making my dinner following a long day of work. I can picture the authors of these stories doing the same. Below you'll find their stories, verbatim. Their struggle to master grammar and spelling underscores the challenges they face every day--and face willingly.

The next time you hear someone say today's immigrants don't want to accept American ways, remember these stories. There are many others like them, people quietly struggling to adapt to a new language and culture so they can provide their children with the same life you'd wish for your own. They're old stories, repeated many times in the course of U.S. history. Only the faces have changed.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Susana, Phoenix Az
My name is Susana, and I am from Mexico City. I am 36 years old. I came to the USA because I was married. My husband and I came to have more opportunities and to have a better life. Now, I live with my sons and my husband. I hope that some day I will see my family again.
On my journey, I felt nervous and was cautious. When I got here, I saw many differences, such as the language, the money and the weather. But as time passed, I met new people and I felt better. Now, I eat different foods, and I found many Mexican restaurants that bring me many memories.
Although I miss my friends and family back home, I am glad that I am able to provide a better life for my children.

Mario, Phoenix Arizona
My name is Mario. I am from Guerrero,Mexico. I am 44 and I am married. I have three children and I came to the United States for a better future. In Mexico I didn't have my own home. I came to Phoenix with the brother in laws and of my wife. I didn't have family in this city. My long term goal in this country is to get my own home. I need to prepare to take my Residence card. That's why in the eigth years I always have had two jobs to survive. It is very difficult to get a long without legal documents. My greatest des8ire is that my children continue studying to improve themselves and have a better way of life. Someday we will have our own home and be able to get our legal documents to go visit our relatives in Mexico.

Maria, Phoenix AZ
My name is Maria 
I come from Tamaulipas Mexico.
I cam to live in Phoenix, A Z
I left my country because need to work 
I had no difficultades because I arrived by plane 
My reaction to the U S A was fear.

Araceli, Phoenix Az 
My name is Araceli. I am from Mexico I came to this country twelve years ago looking for a better life in this country.When I came I brought a suitcase with my Mexican culture,my roots and illusions for a better future leaving behind my family my job my country to start a new life. 
When I was travelng to this country I was very sad because I thought how will be my life in U.S.A .
When I was on the border was the worse experience in my life I feel humiliated because all things was diferent but I am happy because in this country I achieved things that in my country was impossible.
some things I like in this country are I can do my Mexican traditions.
One struggle I encountered was I could not find work because I was undocumented but that not prevented me to get ahead and achieve my dreams.

Luz, Phoenix
I left my country in 2003. I came to unite with my husband, who was working here for a few years. I brought with me my 2 children, leaving behind my mom, sibbilings and all my family.
During my journey to Phoenix, I was feeling sad to leave all my life and thinking what it was to come. At the time I arrived my reaccion was better than I was thinking because the neighborhood was good. As I have found a big difference because my home town was smaller and all people living there greeting everyone and here we are like unknown people.
I have found nothing the same.
The struggles were finding the right school for my children and how to transport us and also the big struggle was when I wanted to get work.

Teresa, Phoenix, Az.
My parents came from Puebla, Mexico we came to Phoenix, Arizona. Because my parents came for more opportunities for them and my siblings as well as better medical attention for me, for my eyes. I brought with me my hope, faith my desire to succeed. I am leaving behind my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.During my journey to the U.S.A. I felt so excited & had fear at the same time. I had many emotions at this time. My reaction to the U.S.A was difficult in the beginning because I had an auto accident and had long time in physical therapy and mental (emotional), and then when I started school, it was a little hard to learn the new system of education, the difference from my native county is food, culture, language, the people the similarities from my country is some people that are from the same place I am from some places that have same language to me like Spanish the struggles that I have encounter the auto accident, time for my recuperation different system of education and the culture.

Elda, Phoenix, Az
My name is Elda. I am from Sonora Mexico. I came to the U.S.A because my husband did not have a job. My husband came first. Then a month later my children and I came whit some friends. My friends took me to my husband. In my country we have many parties, here in U.S.A every one is in their own world. I had no struggles when I came here. In Mexico we are not safe but in the U.S.A were are.

Ariana, Phoenix AZ 
My name is Ariana; I came from Oaxaca Mexico, when i was 15 years old,my parents decided to move to Arizona because our business got burnt,They rebuilt the grocery store,but nothing was the same.I brought a Virgin of Guadalupe necklace.I left 1 brother and 2 sisters in Oaxaca. I felt sad because my family was separated.I was scared because I didn't know what was on the other side.The truck drivers drove like a crazy person,and I was worried about my dad because he was apart from us.I was so happy we were safe.My native country is a little town so only the road and big street was paved.I remember the weather; it felt so warm at 7:00am. The only thing that was the same was my uncle and aunt who recived us in their house. English was the first problem I had; the first question i learned was "Do you speak spanish? The kids were so mean and rude with no good manners,fortunately I started knowing good people.

Andres, Phoenix, AZ.
I come here to the U S A . for the first time in 1992, because I looking
For better work. Now I have all my family with me, I have good work,
I 'm very happy.
God bless me.

When I came to Amerca it was veri hard because the agente of immigration was holding me and took me bak to Mexico.when I came to America, everything was different than Mexico. So I was feeling sad because I was in a strange place. Everithing, was different the language, monney, stores and the people. I missed my mam, my dad and all my family. The weather was to hot here in Mexico the weather is very nice. I didn't have work . No money and I didn't know any body. I needed to go to places but I did not have a car. I did not know the city. So I really was want to go bak to Mexico.

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