Marylin (Amaya) Stancroff’s Story
As retold by Jazzmin Jackson
Eighteen hours each week, its only eighteen hours each week, until I am able to have a chance of providing a better life for my family . . . only Eighteen hours.
Au Pair was my dream the moment I saw it on TV that afternoon. I knew that this was my chance to achieve my “American Dream,” but I had to get my parent’s permission.
“Can I go to America to become an Au Pair Nanny?”
“¿Porqué irías a América, cuando tu familia está aquí?”My dad said.
(Why would you go to America, when your family is here?)
“Dad, I’m tired of living the same way. I’m tired of watching Mom wash clothes with her hands, and having to live day by day with little money. I want to go to America to provide a better life for us.”
Sighing “Es esto lo que realmente quieres hacer?”My mom said.
(Is this really what you want to do?)
I knew at this moment that my parents saw me in a different light; I was no longer just one of their children still living in Peru. I was their oldest child who was going to come to America and actually make a change for my family.
Eighteen hours each week (three hours there and back) is what I would have to travel by bus to Chiclayo, Peru to reach the closest Au Pair office. I would travel there three times a week for an entire year. During this year I was studying every possible immigration question, learning how to drive (for the first time) and learning how to speak English. If you’re thinking that this was all easy, think again!
Breathe. Today was the big day, I had studied every question on this exam. I am sure that I will pass!
“ Why are you trying to enter the U.S?” the officer asked
“ I want to go to work as a nanny through the company called ‘Au Pair’”
“Where are you going?”
“New York, New York”
As you could imagine these questions were definitely challenging for someone who had just learned English, somehow I managed to get through them… until the last question.
“ Do you have a job already lined up?”
“ uh…uh… I don’t know” Confusion.
“¿Tienes un trabajo alineado?”
“ Sí, el Au Pair nos está proporcionando una familia a la llegada a los Estados Unidos.”
At this moment I was in complete disbelief; I have never heard of an officer asking a question in Spanish that was supposed to be asked ONLY in English. It was no one but God showing me favor because I would’ve not passed if he didn’t do this for me.
I was so excited to see my parents once I passed . . .
America, I’m Here!
My first family I was paired with was a disaster in its own way. I wasn’t able to drive; therefore I only lasted a month. I was so lucky that I was then matched with Stacia, a single mother, who spoke fluent Spanish and had one son. Once I arrived to her house I was shocked because this was the first time I had seen a little boy with blond hair and blue eyes. He was so cute! During these years I was provided with my own car, the opportunity to take English classes, and start a social life. I was also able to send money back to my family so that my mom was able to get a washing machine. But things were too good to be true.
After my first two years, Au Pair sent me a letter stating that my visa would soon expire, and I would be sent back to Peru. I went to take talk to Stacia and she said, “Tell me what do you want to do, if you want to stay I will help you.”
The next day Stacia had her lawyer on the phone, and I was able to get a student visa. This meant I could start going to school and working at the same time. However, with this type of visa I was not able to go back home due to the risk of me not being able to re-enter. I missed so much back home during this period, but the one thing that hurt me the most was the day I received the phone call from mi papá saying that mi dad (granddad) had passed away. I wasn’t able to go back, because I didn’t have my papers done. I will never forget this. However, I was able to stay with this family for four years (longer than you are supposed to in the Au Pair company) and by Stacia taking me in I was able to meet John Stancroff, the man I married and built a life with.
What a lovely thing he did for me too when we married. I always wanted to marry in the Catholic Church like my parents. In order to get married in the Catholic Church, my husband needed to become a Catholic too. He took classes to become a Catholic and then became baptized and confirmed. I was the happiest bride when we were married in the Catholic Church. My only regret is that my parent were denied the visas to come to my wedding.
After all I have been through I have now been in America just a little over ten years. There are still days when things get hard but, I close my eyes and remember my last day in Peru . . . my family sitting at our dinner table with mi papá sitting at the end of the table, then mi mamá y dos hermanas then mi hermano (my mom, my two sisters, and my brother). And I simply remember my purpose for coming here; it was to provide a life for my family that we could not get in Peru.
I open my eyes and say, “Marylin, you’ve got this.”
Dedicated to John Stancroff, Luis Amaya, Marina Pintado, Cintia, Yesenia ( Milady), Luis, Papa Sambo, Mama Pilar, The Ford family.
This story originally appeared in Facing College: Immigrant & International Students’ Stories, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan.