My Story: Coming to the U.S
Updated: Mar 10
My name is Laweska, as you may know already. I was born on February 13th, 2004 in San Felipe De Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. I’m 16 years old and I’m a sophomore at Bronx Career and College Preparatory High School. I was born in the Caribbean, where you enjoy the hot sun at the beach in a Sunday afternoon with your family without worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow, because your concern it’s to have fun, where you may not know everybody you see in the streets but you smile at them to make them feel good, where you can go to everybody’s houses and they offer you the most comfortable seat in their houses to make you feel welcomed , where food taste amazing because of all the love you put into it, but the most amazing thing it’s that no matter how sad you are, you only need to look at us to feel alive again!
The Caribbean it’s a perfect place for you to enjoy and have fun, but I didn’t know this until I was outside my native country, until I knew I missed it, until I felt empty because I wasn't with my family and friends. I didn’t know I used to love my country so bad like this until I was in the United States. The United States is a place of the “opportunities” people always say, surprisingly being true. A place where immigrants like me come to the country to have better opportunities, to have their dreams true, to live well as our family expects, without knowing we need "THE FAMILY" to become those dreams real. On Thursday afternoon of August 16th, 2018 was the day I first came to the U.S. My first day taking a plane, my first day ever saying goodbye to my family, first day ever I felt empty and I didn’t even left the Dominican airport yet. But this was the day everybody was expecting for me to chase my dreams, or that’s what my mom said. On December 21st, 2016 I graduated from English language on a institution on DR with Maximum honors, thinking I was done learning the language moving on in January 12th, 2017 to learn French, language I couldn’t finish because of the transition of moving to the U.S. August 16th, 2018, day I have to leave DR I have to leave my shyness a side and for the first time, hear the language of the other side, thinking I was prepared to rock and roll because I graduated with “Maximum honors”. But that’s what my certification said; I was in the John F. Kennedy Airport in the United States ready but nervous because I had to talk to the security to get my dad’s bag and my bag to get out and wait for my uncle to pick us up, well, “Que Dios me cuide”(God take care of me) I said going to the security’s direction, asking him where can I get my bags without knowing I said it in my mind, the security stayed straight looking at me with a face telling me what are you looking at me, but finally I asked, the security guided us and we were ready to get out, I was sweating, felt like dying and I just said 5 words, “where can I get my bag” and that’s it. We got out and moved on, we arrive to our destination, my new house, looking ugly as we used to see in the newspaper or magazines on DR, I didn’t know the apartments looked ugly without any color, I felt disappointed but I thought maybe the inside it’s different but I was dizzy and the only thing I wanted to do was eat and go to sleep. I did, I ate and slept. I stayed in for the whole summer, talking to my friends in DR, video calling my mom every day, missing my brother, everything was a mess. Wishing I didn’t have to go to school on September 5th of 2018, My freshman year, a new place, new friends, new experiences my mom said.
September 5th, 2018 came and the only thing I did was gain weight since the day I came, having to adapt to wake up early and talk to my father everyday thing I didn’t used to do because I never lived with my father before, a stranger for me would’ve been better. But I was here already, I didn’t have any choice. I woke up early and I got ready, my dad brought me to the school. I looked at all these people and said wow, big school. Haha, funny, right? I got in the classroom and said Hi to everybody. I had to talk to my advisor Ms. Neely but the first word that came out of my mouth was a Spanish word, I looked at the floor and looked at Ms. Cales without knowing she knew Spanish. I looked at her with my face of help and she talked to me, I felt relieved. Ms. Neely came back to me and now I could talk a little bit and move on. First day of school was tough, I felt alone, I was analyzing everybody to see if I could talk to one of them even though I was scare but I couldn’t, everybody seem like they already had their friends , so, my option was to eat my lunch I brought from home because I didn’t know school gives you lunch. New thing I learned. I got my schedule, global history, my favorite class but in Dr it’s "Ciencias Sociales". So I said I will rock it I just need to translate the things I know, it’s not that difficult. Well, now it’s the time to go, and they gave me a “Do now” , “hazlo ahora'' in Spanish. I was asking myself "hazlo ahora, que haga que ahora?” (Do now what, to do what now?) looking at the walls like they were going to tell me they were afraid to ask Mr.Santos. I said wow, maybe he speaks Spanish because we had the same last name, guess what? He did, again, I felt safe, I talked to him and he explained to me and I tried to write what I knew in English but I couldn’t. He told me “Necesitas practicar el Inglés, no empieces el año escolar de esa manera, porqué sino te pasarás el año entero sin entender y luego tendrás problemas” ( you need to practice English, don’t start the school year that way because otherwise you will stay the whole year without understanding and then you will have problems) he said, well, what a good way to start the day (my sarcasm’s voice talking inside me). The day ended, I got home and talked with my mother about it. My mom has known English since she was 12 years old, she always worked talking the language everyday for 23 years now, almost all her life. I told her that it was difficult to translate everything from the top of my mind to English, all the classes I took, all the knowledge I had, it was difficult, she told me not to worry, she decided to not help me because she needed to let me figure it out to see what I’m capable of even though she knew how far I can go, even though I felt I couldn’t, she knew I could rise up.
The days went by, I called her and my brother every day I could, I discovered new things every day in school, through the days I started to understand, slowly but I did everything I could. Report Card and honor roll came. I have always been persistent, intelligent and honest of what I can do or not, but struggling everyday I didn’t think I could do this type of amazing academically, I didn’t know that you have a gpa on school and based on that you have honors or not. Well, I found out when I was going to the Main office and I was reading this paper with names and I saw my gpa with a 93 in the gold honors, I was like why is my name in there? , and I found out I was in the honors roll where my gpa was sent to Washington D.C for records, it instantly made my day. This is what I was working on and I didn’t even know I was working for it, I came home, told my mom and she was happy, she told me that how she said at the beginning she will say it again, everything’s going to be fine, through the days I kept being in the honor roll, as higher as I ever worked for it to be, I kept myself being motivated to study and listen to more music in English, watch movies and started reading, the most interesting thing was making poems in Creative Writing with Ms. Miranda and Mr. Vargon, they always made us laugh at everything and even though it was still hard at least I laugh at it and kept working. I didn’t have time to cry or feel upset because I didn’t find a way to do it, I was feeling confident again.
Almost ending my freshman year I met new friends, happens that they were Dominican like me, near to the place I’m from. I felt amazing again, I felt understood. The days went by fast, and I learned and improved every single day without know I was, and by the end of my freshman year I could tell you what I did the whole day without stopping because I felt confident, I felt free, I felt I could do everything, I believed I could fly🎼 , crazy but true. Even though I still missed my family I learned that everything that happened in my life was for a purpose, everything I cried for it was worth it to cried for because that’s the reason I’m here today, that’s the reason I’m able to express myself in a better way that I didn’t use to express before, that’s the reason my mom always said to me everything is going to be fine because I was able to confront it, I was able to rise up, I was able to get better by being consistent because even though I could have more support or I didn’t feel like I could support myself, I did, because I remembered the reason why my mom signed a permission for me to come here, I remembered where I’m from and how I could be better and represent where I came from, because I always knew life it’s short, so, why do I have to stay miserable and not work for what I want? My mom always was and still is the best example of what a person can do in bad situations, and it’s to go always for the best.
In conclusion, that’s how I learned English. I learned it with all the sacrifices I could give, with all the support either of my family or myself I could use for encouragement, and all the dedication I put into it, because even though at the beginning I didn’t want to come here, if you already in, you can’t escape, your options are simple. Either do or don’t . And as you may know I didn’t choose to stay quiet, because I needed to learn how to reach things without a stair. Note of the day; always work hard, be persistent and remember what’s your purpose in life, if you fail that’s not the end, we need to fail to become better but that’s up to you, success need failure because without experiences we are nothing, so, keep it real and keep working!