Ana’s Story: In Mexico and Michigan

Facing College: Diverse Student Voices from Michigan State University

As told to: Hannah Alverson

So, it was my birthday and I had just arrived to visit my parents in Tlaltenango, Mexico. Usually I visit them once a year, and when I get there, we go into the city to go out and eat, but this time they had something else in mind. They told me, “Let’s go home. We’re tired and we bet you’re tired too.”

And I said, “No, I want to just do something here,” but they kept insisting. Finally, I caved and when we arrived home, I walked into my house filled with my family and friends. It was such a nice surprise. My mom had bought stuff to have a party, a bonfire, and even got the ingredients to make my favorite food, carne asada, which is steak with beans and rice. I was so happy and thankful for the effort my parents put into making this party happen.

I’m always so grateful for what my parents do for me.

I wish I would be able to see them more often.

They’re in Mexico and I’m in Michigan because, before I was born, they came to the United States illegally. My dad got a job here as factory worker and my mom would just stay home to take care of my older siblings. My mom then had me and my younger sister, and once I got into kindergarten, my dad decided to go down to Mexico to live with my grandma because she got sick. My mom ended up staying with us for a couple of years and also got her visa so she would be able to visit us back and forth, but once it expired, she decided to go live with my dad back in Mexico. Actually, we all lived there for my 5th and 6th grade years. Then I moved back to the United States with my siblings because my parents wanted us to have a better education than what was provided in Mexico.

So now, I live with my older brother, his wife, their two kids, and my younger sister. My parents can’t come back because, unfortunately, they don’t have their citizenship in the U.S. They have been working on it for years now, but they haven’t been successful at all with the process. My dad was caught by immigration one time when he was trying to cross the border, and that is something that is not taken lightly.

We hope that someday they can come back here to live with us.

It’s hard not having them in my life the same way that most kids have their parents. Not only is it hard now, but it was also very difficult not having them there for some of my childhood.

I don’t get to see them every day and they miss the major milestones in my life. Like most teens look forward to having their parents watch them graduate high school, but mine were not able to make it. It’s also hard not having the same financial support that other families provide. Whenever I go home to visit them, they pay for me, but when I’m home in the United States, I’m on my own. I have to pay for taxes, my cell phone, clothes, supplies, bills, and all that stuff. It can be stressful, but I managed to get the money from scholarships and my job last summer working as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant.

I am very thankful for the family that I have and even though I don’t get to see them very often, I would not trade them for anything else in this world. They call me every day and always remind me to never give up and that I can accomplish anything that I want. I just hope that they will be able to come to see me graduate from Michigan State and see me continue to work to get my law degree. But no matter what, I know that my parents support me through everything and are very proud of me. They are my motivation and my life.

This story originally appeared in Facing College: Diverse Student Voices, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

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