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Norias, Mexico This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


     Fifteen people tumbled out of the rickety pickuptruck and into a muggy new world. There I was in Norias, Mexico, prepared to leada Vacation Bible School for the children of the town. The day had just begun andthe sun was almost completely visible above the valley's mountain walls. A tintof darkness still lingered in the air as the children streamed out of theirhomes.

I watched them intently as they scampered into the makeshiftelementary school. Dust rose behind them. Despite their everyday struggles, Inoticed a certain contentment on their faces. Watching twin girls skip throughthe gate with matching dirty yellow dresses that waved in the morning breeze, Ibegan thinking how different their world was from mine. I also noticed theyseemed thankful for everything, and took nothing for granted.

My thoughtswere interrupted with the entrance of seven-year-old Carlos. It was almost timeto start when he strutted in, flashing a mischievous, confident smile. Proudlywearing a bright green soccer jersey, he strolled over to his friends. Hispresence was welcomed, and within minutes they were wrestling in the shade of agiant tree. Settling into a casual recline, Carlos turned his attention to thestory of Daniel and the lions' den. I knew he was going to be trouble, and I wasasked to take care of the troublemakers, and lead the recreation times. I wouldbe spending a lot of time with him.

Carlos appeared each morning sportingthe same bright green shorts, green jersey, and smirk. The last morning, whilethe group was singing the national anthem, Carlos was chosen to hold the flag. Hewas barely strong enough, and shifted his small body to keep it upright. Carloswas taken by the moment, and silent for the first time all week. He realized howit felt to be important and his eyes filled with pride; he made eye contact withme, transforming my own thoughts about pride. The song finished and he struggledto hand the heavy flag back. Carlos' pride lasted only another moment before hewas storming around with his friends again. But even if Carlos doesn't rememberholding that flag, I will.

I was even more blown away with Carlos when Ilearned what he did each day after school. He was a candy vendor in themarketplace and evenings tossed chilies at a taco stand. The potency of thepeppers stained and burnt his hands. Carlos lived with his grandmother and wasthe only source of income. I don't even have a job, and Carlos, a rambunctiousseven-year-old from Norias, Mexico is supporting his grandma by giving of hischildhood and working two jobs.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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