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A Voice for the Voiceless

By zurisadai Apr 14, 2013 1195 Words
A Voice for the Voiceless
Zurisadai Hernandez

I saw the fear in my two year old sister’s eyes as we were separated from my mother before crossing the border. I hugged her tightly and assured her that everything was okay as I held back my tears. The next couple of days, my sister cried endlessly and persistently asked where “mommy” was. I kept my sister by my side, made sure she was safe, and attempted to make her smile as often as possible. Finally we arrived in a bus stop in Los Angeles where we were embraced by my mother. I was only six. We settled in Mendota. Everyday I would ask my mother “When are we going back to my house?” I missed the scent of the dirt roads where my best friend and I played. I missed being surrounded by familiar faces. Most importantly, I missed being able to speak in a language that everyone understood. The next couple of months, I refused to speak. I refused to betray my native tongue and speak in another language. I was held back in the first grade because of the language barrier. I had no friends and was extremely shy and quiet. I was afraid that if I changed those familiar faces would not recognize me when I went back home and I would be as strange to them as the new country I lived in was to me. Eventually, I realized that we were not going to return to “my house.” America was home and I had to make it mine.

Struggling to speak English, I asked my teacher for help. She suggested that I read out loud as much as possible. That was how I discovered the power words have when they are written down. I read any chance I had. Every time I discovered a new word I felt a sense of accomplishment and excitement. The more I read, the more confident I felt when I spoke English. My teacher encouraged me to participate in class and speak up. My English improved and I began to excel in academics. I was no longer afraid to lose my identity. I realized knowledge and language are powerful enough to surpass any borders or barriers. I am proud of my Mexican heritage and proud to call America my new home.

I am the oldest of three children and the first in my family to attend college. I know that my choices affect the choices my fourteen year old sister makes. I want to prove to her that anything is possible and no excuse is ever valid. My six year old brother has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism that makes social interaction difficult. He has taught me much for being so young. It amazes me how intelligent he is; He asks me questions I do not know the answer to. This motivated me to become more knowledgeable and informed.

My parents have made countless sacrifices in order provide a stable, loving home for my two younger siblings and me. Neither of my parents owns a cell phone or car and it is difficult to make ends meet. My father, a construction worker, is twenty six years older than my mother. He is sixty eight years old. It has become difficult for him to find a job, but he still does not give up. He gets up early in the morning and walks all around town in search of a job. He is still the strong man I have always known and has taught me the value of perseverance and hard work. My mother never makes excuses and maintains a positive attitude despite how helpless the situation might seem. My mom has had to take almost full responsibly of financial matters in our home. She works in the fields in the summer and sells Mary Kay products. Money is an issue at our home. Despite this, my parents have managed to give my siblings and me everything we need. Being brought up in a modest home has taught me that money is not the most important thing in life nor should it be an obstacle. I am grateful for what I have and appreciate the simple things in life.

My family and I have been living in the projects, housing for low income families, for six years. I have seen many teenagers drop out of school. Many of them have gone to juvenile detention, resorted to drugs or become teen parents. I want to change that. I want teenagers to realize that coming from a bad neighborhood should not be an excuse to not attend college. Growing up with peers who lack ambition motivated me to better myself so I can be a positive role model in my neighborhood.

In order to obtain money for college and help my parents financially, I began to work in an asparagus factory six days a week. I have half days and leave school at 12:50. I work from 2:30-11:00 p.m. and get home at 12:00 a.m. and finish all my homework before I go to sleep. I get four hours of sleep each night if I am lucky. Working for eight hours and managing school and homework is very overwhelming. Despite this, I have maintained my 4.0 grade point average, the highest I have obtained in high school. There are people who work in factories all their life and I am fortunate because this is temporary and soon I will be in college. Knowing this gives me strength to persevere through work and excel academically.

My most rewarding experiences have been helping others through community service. Knowing that I made someone’s day better when I notice the look in a child’s eyes when they receive a perfect score in a reading test after I read to them or the “God Bless You” I hear when I give someone in need food and water gives me great joy. I want to continue helping others and empower people with knowledge and language. There are many people in the world particularly women and children who are being silenced, suppressed, and treated unfairly. I want to speak up for those who have not yet found their voice.

I am going to attend CSU-Northridge. I will work day and night during the summer if that is what it takes for me to be able to attend college. Receiving The Mexican American Bowling Association of Central California Inc scholarship would greatly benefit me because my parents cannot help me pay for college. I will obtain a master in communications, become a journalist, travel around the world and discover stories to tell the world about. Ever since I could remember, I have dreamed of becoming a writer. Those books I read as a child impacted me. I want to have that impact on others when they read my stories. I want to be the voice for people who are silenced and writing will provide me the tools to do so. My goal in life is to help my family, community, and the voiceless of the world.

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