Jessica Galindo’s Story
As retold by Brianna Bilodeau
When I was three years old my parents made the huge decision to pack up and move our whole family, and moved all the way from Mexico to Imlay City, Michigan. We drove the whole way and we lived with my grandma when we finally got here. My dad got a job working in construction and my mom was a stay at home mom. They moved to America to make a better life for themselves and the family they were going to have. I am so thankful for all the new and different experiences I have had. There are four major ways that living in the United States has touched my life and I couldn’t be more thankful with them.
#1: I am thankful for my family memories.
Growing up in America, I have wonderful family memories. One of my favorite childhood memories was when my family loaded into cars and trucks and headed to Six-Flags amusement park. We got to bond all weekend which is something we don’t get to do very often. At the park, there was this ride called Raging Bull that I was so excited to go on. I remember I was also really scared to go on it. I waited in line with my cousins. They weren’t nervous so during the entire wait, they kept trying to calm me down and they had to keep reminding me that I was making it scarier than it was. Facing my fears and going on the ride was so worth it in the end. I wouldn’t have been able to do if it weren’t for my family.
#2: I am thankful for the opportunity to go to college.
Growing up, if I struggled with homework I couldn’t ask my mom for help because she wasn’t very fluent in English. That left me to figure things out on my own while other kids got to get help from their family. Moving into high school my struggle wasn’t with the work; it was my own feelings that my skin color made me stand out. I’m not sure why I felt that way other than I was the only one with this color skin. Coming to college is the best experience I have had with education so far. It is not only giving me the life I have dreamt of, but it has so much more diversity which makes me more comfortable in the college environment.
#3: I am thankful for my amazing friends.
In spite of sometimes feeling different, I made some of the most amazing friendships. My friends were the people who made high school comfortable for me. They made me feel like I fit in and we always had tons of fun when we got together. We would usually get in the car and drive around to random places while we cranked the music up loud. Sometimes we would go to the mall or get ice cream or even pick a field and stop to play soccer. I am thankful for them and all of our fun times but I am also thankful that I could drive. Driving isn’t something I think I would be able to do in Mexico due to traffic, so I am very thankful that I am able to get in the car and drive places and making awesome memories with my friends.
#4: I am thankful for the help of the people around me.
Growing up with language barriers could sometimes be difficult but there were so many kind people around to help. Because my mom struggled with speaking English, there were many times as a kid that I was the one who had to translate for her. Sometimes, I couldn’t understand what was being said and sometimes others couldn’t understand me, leaving everyone involved frustrated. It has always been a relief when someone who knew both languages was willing to step in and help us communicate. I can remember being at the airport and my mom misunderstood what the boarding screens showed about our boarding information and we ended up missing our flight. She was trying to tell someone what had happened but nobody could understand her. After a long time of trying to communicate, an airport security officer walked by and noticed what was happening. He stopped and told us he could also speak Spanish. He sorted the whole situation out and got us on a flight for the next morning. My parents made the choice many years ago to move us to America for a chance at a better life. We have had tons of support from everyone throughout this entire journey.
I couldn’t be more grateful for my family and friends, my experiences and everyone else that has helped me along the way.
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.