Living in Plano, Texas was not easy as a minority.I lived there for 10 years and endured teasing, the kind that children do noteven think hurts, but does. Being half Mexican, I had to learn to brush off allthe jokes about my people being dirty, worthless and only good for mowing lawns.Every race has its convicts, heroes and culture.
Until I went to Mexicotwo years ago, I was afraid to admit my heritage. I went to Cabo San Lucas withmy family and friends who had a house on the peninsula. It was a gorgeous place,but their house wasn't in the resort area. I was absolutely dumfounded by thebeautiful art and happiness of the people. With all the problems in thegovernment, you'd think they would be moping around wishing for a better life,but that wasn't the case. Where we stayed, a Mexican family also lived to helpcare for the house when the owners weren't there. They worked hard and every daywhen we returned from the beach, our rooms had been cleaned and beds made, almostlike a hotel.
Over the weeks we were there, Maria, the mother ofthe caretaker family, shared pictures and stories of her culture and life as achild. It was difficult communicating because of my limited Spanish, but she toldme about working at age six and how her family of eleven children never hadenough to eat until she discovered her skill at weaving. She started a businessand would average four hours of sleep a night, but it was worth it, sheexplained. She showed me some of her favorite creations, with their vibrantred-orange fires and icy-blue oceans that could be hung in a museum. Eventually,she and her sisters had a business that sold beautiful works to tourists.
Her story inspired me. Most people in the United States in such adifficult situation would have given up and gone on welfare, but not Maria. She,the youngest female in her family, made the difference.
The thing Irespect about the Mexicans I met is their appreciation for what they have sincethey work so hard to acquire it. They are not born into a rich country, and theydon't have things handed to them. When people ask me about my last name andheritage, I am proud to say I'm Mexican even if it gives them a differentimpression of me. That is who I am. Generations back my ancestors fought to livein America so their children could have better lives, and I plan to take fulladvantage of that.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.