North San Francisco Bay Student essay
Dear Summer Search,
There are immigrants who move to the United States to live a better life, get a better job and help their families who need the money or just simply for persecution. Some people think this change of life is an easy task, but they cannot judge others unless they actually go through this process themselves. I lived in El Salvador with my mom and my grandmother for eight years. I never met my father because he left my mother before I was born and later I found out he was no longer alive. Growing up without a father has been quite difficult, as a little girl I saw both of my friends parents show up at parent meetings, they got picked up by their dads after school, and also the kids talked about how cool their dads were while I could not join in those conversations. Now it is not as difficult to overcome because I guess I have gotten used to the situation but there are moments when I wish he were with me.
All three of us lived in my grandmother’s small house; it had a kitchen, a small bathroom, a living room and one bedroom. I attended an excellent private school where I learned the basics of my English. I had many great friends and most of my family lived close to each other. My family was so big that the majority of the weekends we would have birthday parties or other types of celebrations and excuses to gather up and have a good time. I liked the life that I lived while being there; I was happy and enjoyed every minute of it. There was only one major problem that we all worried about: gangs and violence. Everyday it seemed like it just kept getting worse. There were shootings and murders almost daily, and when gangs roamed the streets people had to get out of their way to ensure their own safety. This was what made my mother make the biggest decision of her life because she wanted to ensure my safety.
Moving from El Salvador to the United States was not an easy task for my mother and me. I was eight years old and did not comprehend how this would impact my life and change it forever. All I knew back then was that as long as I was next to my mother everything else did not matter. In total, we moved eleven times in five years, bouncing from living in one garage to the next. All this moving was a big deal for me because when I was actually finally getting used in living in one place, we had to move once more. It was also sad and uncomfortable to me when my friends asked why I moved so often and why they could never come over to my house to visit. Finally we decided to move to St. Helena, to be close to one of my aunts.
It was in the middle of my sophomore year that I received a call slip from the office saying that I would have an interview with Summer Search. I knew nothing about the program, I thought it was a school related club or something. When it was my turn for my interview, I didn’t know what they would ask me so at first I was calm about the whole thing. I sat in a room with four people staring at me waiting for me to speak. It was pretty uncomfortable in the beginning, but then I found myself saying things that I would never tell anyone, especially people that I had just met. It was weird. I felt sad for remembering those hard times I went through, but at the same time it felt relieving just getting everything out of my system.
My first call was tough to make because I didn’t know whom I would speak with or what we would talk about. Then I was informed that Jessica would be my mentor from that day on and that she would help me throughout the whole process. I deeply feel that the relationship between Jessica and I has been growing ever since the first day. She is a person that I can trust with everything and can tell about anything that could be troubling me.
The first trip that I made was to Eagle’s Nest, an outdoors camp, located in North Carolina. There, I was able to communicate more freely with people because I knew I had to speak up in order to make some friends. I went rock climbing, whitewater rafting, camping out, and hiking thirty miles of the Appalachian Trail. It was an unforgettable experience that I will always keep with me. I got so close to the people because we spent 24/7 together! On the inside I felt like I could accomplish new things even when I told myself I couldn’t do them, I could take risks without being afraid, and if I only opened up myself just a little I could gain many more wonderful friends.
This summer I attended “Exploration Summer Program” at the famous Yale campus to take a dance and an architecture class. Going there and staying at a real college campus was a wonderful experience because I got to experience what college life would be like. The complete freedom that I had was what I loved the most. Since I’ve never had privacy because I’ve never had my own room, because I have always shared it with my mom, having my own room felt great and I got to experience it for the first time there. The enormous amount of people that I met in my classes and in the quad everyday was unbelievable! What impressed me the most was how nice everyone was to each other, because of this I was able to open up and speak up more easily. There were people from all over the world and the U.S.!!!! I met people from Puerto Rico, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, France, Bulgaria, Korea, Pakistan and Italy. Being able to see and learn about all those different cultures was amazing; I also got to practice my French with the Europeans! I got to go on different fun fieldtrips every weekend like Chinatown in NY, Six Flags New England, The statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Also I got to visit Colleges and Universities like NYU, Harvard, Tufts and Sarah Lawrence.
What was challenging for me was starting to make new friends all over again. The campus was big and there were about 650 students attending the session so choosing whom I would become friends with was a difficult task. I started to get to know my suitemates first and then people in my classes. Going up to them to start a conversation made me nervous, but then I realized that we were all in the same position so that calmed me down. In the last three days I reflected on everything I had accomplished and the wonderful people I met. This made me sad because I knew that again, I had to leave everything behind but I learned to be strong and just enjoy what was still left of it.
Before any of my trips I was a shy person, I had a lot of trouble expressing myself and starting conversations was a challenge for me. I was also scared of trying something new because I thought I wasn’t going to be able to accomplish it or be good at it. Now all that has changed. I am able to express myself and communicate with people more freely, enjoy the best out of everything, try new things and most important: express myself. Before Summer Search I did not like to talk about my personal problems to anyone, but soon found out that there was no need for that. The more I got to know Jessica, the more comfortable I felt around her and was able to express my personal problems. Doing that really made me feel good on the inside because I didn’t have to keep everything bottled up inside me anymore and I let the pressure of my problems out.
First of all I would like to thank Summer Search for this unforgettable experience and for giving me the chance to join this spectacular program. Giving opportunities to people like me that are low income and are going through trouble really makes an impact on their lives. If it wouldn’t have been for you guys I would’ve probably never been able to experience any of this and would still be the shy girl I was two years ago. It is not only about the trips, it is also about having someone to speak with whenever I feel like nobody else can listen and it is also about the support one gets from all of you. For all this I would like to thank Jessica and the other staff. There are no words that can thank all of you enough.