I am also an Immigrant
“Take the chance you never know what might happen”
I live by this quote , when I choose between “ do” or “not do” ,I always choose “do”, the “not do” most of the times would just give you regrets and the “do” would always give you experiences . This phrase took me to a places I would never knew I could be. Here it is a short brief story of how I became immigrant of this country and why I decide to stay having the chance to live in the country where I was born.
One of those last days of my Intermediate English classes in Lima, while I was pursuing a pharmacy degree in Peru. I ran into a flag that said “Work and Travel to US-STUDENT PROGRAM J1 VISA” , this instantly brought my attention , this program was designed for university students enrolled full time in school to come to United States to share their cultures and ideas with people of the United States through temporary work and travel in their “summer vacation” . The program was expensive, it was about around $2000 that included a job contract and special document to present in the embassy for the visa interview, the opportunities of earning money to cover all the trip were high. For me, it was not just about the money, it was mainly the experience of traveling outside of my country because the financial situation of my family, after my mom died from cancer was devastated for us to apply for any visa or even see a possibility to go travel outside of Peru.
The moment I saw this poster, I thought, it could be the experience I need to improve my listening and proficiency in my English. I went home and sold the idea to my Dad, spending the whole next summer in United Stated was not something he agreed at the beginning, but earning an income and having a new experience in my life was the main reason he agreed for me to register on this program. I asked my godfather to lend me $2000 dollars for the program. Thankfully he agreed and with this I registered to the program. This was a defining moment in my life. I have never imagined this decision would change my whole entire life for the next 7 years of my life. I am glad I took the chance.
The first time I came to United States, I got a job as a lifeguard in Arlington City. The day I landed to Washington DC I was so nervous that I would not understand any English, and I didn’t. Even if I have learned (English) for years before, it's completely different than coming to the U.S. and having to speak it. I asked for a public phone and I could not understand a word the big tall black security man told me, luckily there was one person who spoke Spanish who let me use his cell phone and get connected to the manager of the Pool Management Company. It was a great season, I worked 60 hours a day, met amazing people, improved my English and bought me laptop for school. I was even making extra money teaching Spanish to little kids who came to the pool. I made friends and give back the money I borrowed from my godfather, that whole positive first experience in US made me want to come back again.
Next Year, I wanted to repeat this positive experience, I reapplied for the program and got a job serving breakfast and lunch at one restaurant in Park City.
I never knew I was going to meet my husband that season. I met Eric at that restaurant in Park City while he was working as the sous chef. He was confident, charismatic and very sweet. We were so in love .We got married after 6 months of dating. I became a legal resident and then later on, after three years of happy marriage, all the sudden Eric started to act different, aggressive and hyper. I wondered what could it happen to him but could not find any answer.
One day he was drinking with his friend at our house until really late. I was sleeping and needed a good rest for the next early shift at the restaurant. He came to our room in the middle of the night to accused me that I cheated on him with one of his coworkers that coincidently later on I found out was selling him cocaine. I was in shock with that statement. I pushed him to the wall, he responded me with a punch in my eye. I was bleeding hard, but I could not put myself together to call the police or even go to the clinic. He was so nervous and started to cry. I did not want to go anywhere or cause any trouble with the police but I could not stop bleeding .He ended up taking me to the Clinic.
At the Clinic, the nurse asked me if somebody hurt me while Eric was waiting in the lobby. I denied any aggression. I said to her that I fell from the hill that was at my house while I was coming down to the icy street.
In my mind I was so embarrassed to accept in public that I was a victim. I had the belief that women under domestic violence have a lack of confidence and no education that for sure could not happen to me but sadly, it did.
Three hours after of being in the clinic. I was treated with six stitches under my left eye, a police officer came and told me that my ex-husband plead guilty to them. He was going to be taken to jail and they were taking me to a Peace House, a shelter for women who suffer domestic violence in Park City.
My worst fear became reality, I was officially a victim of domestic violence. By the time I was working at the restaurant because of the incident I called sick for one week. I went to the mall, bought a pair of glasses to cover my stiches and I told everyone I fell. In the meantime, I was sponsored by Peace House to take classes to become a counselor for domestic violence to help Hispanic women. This was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.
I learned a lot about myself and compassion through the pain of others, the main lesson I learned from this experience was that whenever I say my story, I free myself from all the pain .I felt completed helping others. I am truly grateful for the opportunity I was given to cooperate with Peace house.
Even though I understood everything about domestic violence, I decided to give my husband a second opportunity, we came back together, paid a lawyer to clean his records. He went to domestic violence therapies. He seemed to be changing but sadly later on cocaine took over his life, and at that point, I decided to break free of that unhealthy relationship and decided to get divorce. I moved on, leave Park City and start fresh in Salt Lake City.
Over the years while adapting myself to this new world, new culture, I tried to improve my English as much as I could through friends, experiences, books etc., but with all of that, I still wasn't satisfied with my progress. I realized I needed to start learning more of the language on my own. I noticed also that some people think that people who speak with an accent while speaking English have the inability to think clearly or process information as quick as others. This stereotype is a big challenge that foreign people deal with in a daily basis in their jobs and in any other social setting. This became a challenge that I want to conquer while coming to school. I look Latino and I always get the looks of doubt if I have papers the last five years of being resident coming back from visit my family in Peru, immigration officers always took me to their offices. People being hard on me with my accent, sometimes we are so quick to make judgments about others without