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I am an alien

An Essay by ESTEFANIA RIVERA GONZALEZ

Estefania Rivera Gonzales, Contributor

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The Oxford English dictionary defines the word “alien” as belonging to a foreign country; unfamiliar and disturbing or distasteful; supposedly from another world; extra-terrestrial.

I have lived in the United States for 14 years. I know the national anthem, I can speak in perfect English (with a slight accent). I can tell you about the 14th Amendment and how everyone has equal protection under the law. I celebrate Independence Day and wear red, white and blue while eating hamburgers on the beach. I stop at every stop sign, volunteer in my community, and study at my town’s local college. I pay my taxes, eat turkey on Thanksgiving and snowboard in the winter. My name is Estefania. I was born in Mexico, and now I live here.

Event though I live in this country, I am still Mexican at heart. I often try to pronounce English words in Spanish. I spend Dec. 11 and 12 at church celebrating La Virgen de Guadalupe and sing along with the mariachi as we thank her for all of our blessings. I know nothing about football but know much more about futbol. None of my mother’s recipes are written down, so I can only learn by watching.

I consider the United States my home, but I am an alien.

I am an alien? 

I lived in Guanajuato, Mexico for seven years. I know the national anthem and speak close to perfect Spanish. I celebrated Independence Day by attending the town festivals and parading down the street in regional Mexican dresses and bullet belts. I never got the chance to drive or volunteer in my community or drink tequila. I ate the most delicious foods with sauces and spices made by my mother and aunts, and I liked to run and play hopscotch in the dirt street. My name is Estefania. I lived in Mexico, and now I live in the United States.

I forget words in Spanish and have to replace them with English to finish my sentences. I celebrate the American holiday of Halloween, which is seen as a celebration of witches and demons by the Catholic church. I don’t know about Mexican history. I have no memories of my hometown after I was 8 years old. I don’t have any friends in my town of Estación Joaquin, and I only keep up-to-date on town gossip by the stories my family tells me over the phone. I consider Mexico my home, but I am an alien.

I am a dreamer

We were brought to this great country by our parents as children. They brought us to have a better life, to receive an education and to live the American dream. When I was younger, I did not think about how different life was because my mother was happy and I was getting an education. I never questioned where I came from or where I was going. I knew where my roots were and I had a plan for the future. Now I am faced with the brutal reality of living a double life. I have distant memories of my home country of Mexico, but I have not been there in more than 14 years. I have very vivid memories and a life in the United States, a country where I reside illegally.

They call us dreamers because our parents had a dream to bring us here to give us a better life. Our parents’ sacrifices have lit a fire in our hearts to create positive change in every way possible. We were brought to this country as young children, and we never left. We stayed because we call it home. It is all we know. But is it truly our home? Where is our home? Where must we pursue our dreams without the fear of being called aliens?

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I am an alien