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Immigrants are Human Too

The hard wood of my desk feels cold against my forearm, matching my cold, clammy hands. My foot taps quickly and restlessly against the floor, following the rhythm of my beating heart. My sweaty hand cramps from gripping the pencil so tightly. The paper in front of me stares back tauntingly, with my name, Ricardo Martinez, scrawled across a thin line at the top. After studying all night, I should be exhausted but adrenaline and nervous energy keeps me wide awake. I take a deep breathe, clearing my mind and digging around inside of it for the right answers. Leaning over my desk, I zero in on the test, nothing else matters. This test contributes to a large percent of our grade. If I pass this, I will have good enough grades to dare hope that I could have a shot at getting into college. Going to college means so much to me, means so much to my family. I have to pass this, all my dreams and hopes depend on it.

The other students sitting in rows across the small schoolroom seem much less focused. Some pass notes to each other when the teacher turns her back. Others doodle on the back of their test sheets. A tall blonde boy to my right plays Footsie with the curly-haired brunette beside him, who giggles quietly in response. How can they take this so lightly? Of course, it does not matter much to them whether they fail or not because good grades will not greatly affect their chances of getting into college. To these other students, going to college seems more like an option than a necessity. Most of them lean on sports or money to get them where they want to go. None of them live off a handyman's salary. They do not have parents that gave up everything they knew, including their country, culture, language and home, to come here and provide their children with an education. These other kids are not like me. I have to get good grades to hopefully earn a scholarship and go on to college. My parents do not make enough money to pay for college or sports. Of course, it is not like our lives depend on my getting into college and receiving a high-paying job. Even if I just ended up with a job like my dad's, my family will continue to get by just fine like we always have but I owe it to my parents to at least try.

I lay the pencil gently on my desk, steadying the yellowed wood as it threatens to roll off the edge. Slowly, I outstretch my cramped fingers then ball them into a fist again, like a cat kneading the air with it's claws, preparing to continue the hunt. I wipe my hands on my worn-out jeans. Mama says I need new jeans, that Dad should take the money that the government offers us so my sister Hilda and I can have new clothes. I smile to myself. I am just as stubborn as my dad. I will make my own future and I will not lean on others trying to get there. I grasp the pencil once more, and begin to write out the answers that I stayed up so late studying last night. The hand that holds the pencil looks different than the hands of all those around me, but I do not mind. The color of my skin is just another obstacle for me to navigate around. I may not have white skin but I have big dreams and a stubborn will. I have a bright mind. I have a bright future.

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