It’s the holiday season so I’ve been spending a lot of time with my parents. This is the first Christmas we’ve spent just the three of us, thanks COVID-19, and it’s given us a lot of time to talk about our story as immigrants, so I decided to share it with all of you.
Her Campus (HC): Why did you decide to move to the US?
My Mom (M): Life circumstances. I got remarried and it happened that my husband was working in the United States. So, when we decided to get married, we decided to come live here.
HC: What was the hardest part of deciding to leave Venezuela?
M: It’s hard to describe what the hardest part was because there were so many hard parts. I never thought that I would leave Venezuela, so thinking about moving to another country was hard. In my family, we’re all very close, so the thought of leaving them: my parents, my siblings, my cousins, was scary. Professionally, I was well-established and owned a business. Going from that to starting all over again from zero, was hard. I knew before I came to the U.S. that I was going to be a nobody, and compared to everything I had in Venezuela it was a difficult thought.
HC: How did you decide what to take with you?
M: I knew that what I wanted to take didn't fit in my luggage. I couldn't fit my parents or my siblings in my suitcase. I tried to bring the least amount of stuff. I placed a higher value on pictures, university certificates, letters from my grandparents, your toys to make sure that you didn’t miss our life in Venezuela. My dreams, fears, my Bible. I brought four suitcases with me, 2 were filled with just your toys, and the other two just had the bare necessities. Jeans, T-shirts, sneakers, a couple of sweaters, but nothing was important because the most important things I couldn’t bring with me.
HC: What were you thinking about when you were checking in at the airport?
M: I was happy and sad. Happy for my new beginning with my husband and my daughter, but sad because I was leaving my life in the past. There was no going back.
HC: Are you happy that you came when you did before everything started getting bad in Venezuela?
M: Yes, I’m happy right now, but that doesn’t mean it wasn't hard. This is a great country to immigrate to. Just like everywhere, there are good and bad people, good and bad experiences. But I’m happy and grateful for the opportunities here, for the good and the bad times. I wouldn’t change anything because no hay mal que por bien no venga, ni bien que su mal no traiga (there’s always going to be difficult times, but even in the good times there’s difficulty).
[bf_image id="b7f33gnrwngn6fcwrng7xbm"] HC: Would you say that the American dream is still alive?
M: This country gives opportunities to people that work hard, persevere and do the right things. Where I’m from, a dental assistant could never buy a car, rent an apartment, travel or do anything. They barely survive. A physician can't do that either. So here, you can have the American dream.
HC: So what is the American dream to you?
M: The American dream to me is being able to provide for my family, have a roof, food, maintain my health and make sure that my kids can go to college and do better than I did.
HC: If you could go back to the beginning when you immigrated to the US, is there anything you would change?
M: I would put more time and effort into learning the language and learning about the culture before coming to the US. In high school I was ‘taught’ English as it’s part of the curriculum. It’s also part of the college curriculum. But you don’t learn another language until you are forced to fend for yourself in a country where you don’t speak the language. I didn’t speak English, and even now I’m still learning.