America Through the Eyes of an Immigrant

By Ashley Rodriguez, Culture Editor

Q: What is your story?

A: My name is Kenneth, I’m 16 years old and I’m in level 4 in ESOL. I’m a junior at Falls Church.

Q: How did you get to America? What was your experience?

A: I’m from Nicaragua and I arrived to the United States at the age of 14. I took a bus from Nicaragua to Mexico. To get here, I traveled through the desert. It was difficult because of my age and it took long weeks to get here, but I did it. I saw many people from Central America and South America walking together for one reason: to cross the border and enter America. People were tired and complaining about the long walk, but we couldn’t stop because it wasn’t an option. We didn’t have enough time. I saw mothers carrying babies, kids, and young boys, like me. It was a really painful experience. It was unique because it’s something few people can experience because it’s dangerous out there.

Q: What was your first impression of America?

A: I was pretty confused, but I saw many people with the same goal as me: to follow their dreams. The diversity was really incredible. It was amazing to me because it was the first time that I saw people from different countries.

Q: What is it like to learn English?

A: The first issue I faced was the language. It’s difficult to live here as a Hispanic because you don’t know the language, and you have to work. I knew a little of English back in my country but I still have problems talking with other people. I really like English because it’s amazing to know two languages. English is a universal language, and I can use it when I travel around the world. I can communicate with more people and improve it.

Q: What is one thing you love about America?

A: The diversity. I remember feeling like I was in another world because I saw so many new faces. The jobs and schools are really different from my country. They’re more advanced. America also offers more opportunities and social mobility than other country

Q: What is one thing you miss about your home country?

A: The main thing I miss about my country is my family. They saw me grow, and say goodbye at a very young age. It was difficult for me, but I know that if I study and work, I will see them in the future. It was really hard to me because I lived with them my whole life but I really wanted to come here. Before I came to the United States, I didn’t know the people really well. It was hard for me to communicate because I was afraid of them. Also, I felt I was a really long way from home.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: I remember the good times I was with my family, united. I remember when we went out, like to a restaurant or the park and ate together. I would like to go back, but I can’t. That’s what bonds all of us immigrants. Nobody else can feel the pain inside you when the thing you most love in your life is behind you, but you can’t look back because it is not the best thing. You have to look towards the future.