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This is Who I Am

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Mexico is known for their history, tradition, culture and natural beauty. Many tourists come for the national parks in desserts, archeological sites of cultures and their beautiful beaches. I visit because my family lives there. My family was born in Durango, Mexico living life to their fullest but as years went by jobs were hard to find. My grandparents couldn’t afford the basic essentials for eight of their children. There was only one place to go that would for sure hire anybody and that was the United States. My grandparents moved here in Chicago in the mid 1900s. They couldn’t speak English, so it was up to their children to comprehend English. Surprisingly, they learned English quickly, making it easier for my grandparents to live their lifestyle here. When my parents conceived us, they didn’t believe that teaching us their language would help us in the future but they were wrong. My siblings and I are Hispanics who were never taught Spanish .It was complicated to respond to my grandparents because they still didn’t know any English. Whenever we visit you can literally picture me and my siblings sitting in the corner, not getting involved in our family conversations. Not being able to communicate with my family made me aggravated, so aggravated that I left with goal. Nelson Mandela once said “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” Three years went by for me quickly. During those years I had difficult days and some easy days in speaking Spanish. I learned a lot in that class. I learned: grammar, literature and Spanish culture. I used this knowledge and passed it on to my family. All this resulted in my family and I connecting; I learned so much about my family that I ended up hearing fascinating stories about their childhood. I didn’t want to stop there; I began to talk to people in the Spanish community. I became somewhat of a translator whenever one person couldn’t comprehend to the other. Hearing those two words “Thank You” or one word “Gracias” felt like I could now actually call myself a Hispanic girl who helped the community
Other than being a learner, I’ve always wanted to be a money spender. I wanted to be a spoiled child but sadly couldn’t. When I was young I wanted toys, ice cream and all the goodies children dreamed of but my parents couldn’t meet my needs because they couldn’t make the money. My father was a high school dropout, so the only job he could get without a high school diploma was a job at a coil factory. His salary wasn’t enough to support a family, which caused my mother to go to work. Unlike my father, my mother had a high school diploma and also had done some college courses. Because of the education she received a job as a Data Specialist. While my parents worked hard, my sibling and I stayed home helping out my grandmother around the house. As I got older, money was getting hard to earn because of the economy. My parents couldn’t afford brand name clothes or food; instead we got our clothes at the thrift store and food at grocery stores that sold generic brands. When I was at the age where I qualified for a part-time job, I immediately went job hunting everyday because I knew that my parents couldn’t support me when one of my siblings was in college. I previously worked at Andy’s Frozen Custard. I am a hard worker when it comes to work because I basically pay for my own necessities meaning, I pay for my car insurance, my phone bill, school supplies and other essentials. I feel that if I’m at the age to work, then I’m at the age to start making mature decisions. In order to make enough money for me to survive, I have to work 30-35 hours a week during the school year. In the beginning it was hard for me to manage school and work because I always got home from work late and never had enough time to finish my homework. I cut my sleeping time in order to get time to finish my homework. Today I can manage to stay up late and be wide awake during school which shows that I can tolerate school and work at the same time.
You may be asking how a girl like me became a responsible, hard worker. The reason for that was that I learned all this from a special person that meant a lot in my life. My grandmother helped out for her community by donating her clothes and food to the unfortunate. When my parents were working overtime, she was the one who volunteered to watch over us. If you were homeless and had nowhere to go, my grandmother was the one who offered you a place to stay for the night. My grandmother was a giver to the people. Whenever I visit, her home was full of children playing in the living room, over twenty plates of cooked meals on her kitchen table, and strangers in the house bathing in her bathroom. She didn’t stop until everything was done. I never appreciated her for her deeds. As I got older, I started following in her footsteps. I donated my clothes, food, my blood, gave my money to churches and to the homeless, but my favorite was volunteering at the Animal Welfare League. Here at the Animal Welfare League, I help families find the right animal for them to take home. By doing so, I walk the animal , play with them and bathe them in order to answer questions to families whenever they ask if the animal is well behaved, house broken, and if they can get along with children. Once their questions are answered it’s time to interact with the animals. Once they get a feel for this animal, there’s a chance for this animal will go home to a family because of me. You have to admit, it feels amazing inside when you volunteer and get gratitude from others for what you’ve done. And that’s why I’ve been volunteering for about a year.
My grandmother meant a lot to me. She was the one in my life that actually believed in me. My grandmother always told me that since the day I was born that this young girl will make me proud. Whenever I visited her, she would buy books from a garage sale, just because she knew I loved to read. Whenever I got hurt, she was the one who kissed my pain away. She was basically my second mom when things didn’t go well in my family. She took care of me and my siblings when our parents went to work long hours just to put food on the table. (At the time my parents couldn’t support a family). She was always sick because she had Lip sarcoma on her left thigh (A malignant tumor in fat cells located in the thigh.) She had it for so many years, I would know because her left thigh was twice the size of the right. Between 2002 and 2005, she went through chemotherapy praying that this tumor would go away. Her prayers were answered, a year later, the tumor was shrinking and her thigh was almost to its normal size. We celebrated for days because she had this tumor for a long time. Until summer of 2011, doctors took some tests and found cancer in her lungs. They predicted that she would be dead in the end of the month, but they were wrong. Rosa Maria Rosales Gallegos died two weeks after the doctor’s predictions. She died in my arms in her bedroom, the very same bedroom I slept in when I was seven years old, where I had the chicken pox, and where she told me that someday I will be successful in life. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t eat, couldn’t talk, and she didn’t know who I was. She was so weak that she decided to pull the plug.
When my grandmother died my life went tumbling down. I lost interest in activities that I enjoyed: sports, art, and other extracurricular activities. I became anti-social to my friends because it was hard for me to talk without a single tear running down my cheek. The hardest part was my grades; it was hard to focus in my class when there was always a picture of my grandmother in my head. My grades and tests scores went down rapidly causing my counselors and my parent’s to worry. Weeks later, I had to go to therapy to move on with my life without my grandmother. She meant so much to me not only because she was related to me, but because she was my motivator. That’s when I remembered what she said to me six years ago.”You can achieve anything in life, Alyssa. So, why shoot for the moon when you can shoot for the stars.” Her sayings were glued in the back of my head forever. Now I’m back on track to become a nurse for Rosa Maria Rosales Gallegos.





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