Photo found at cdn.pixabay.com
Junior Edwin Lopez has been sitting next to me in American Civ class all year. Earlier this school year, talks around immigration status gained more attention in class. Through these class discussion, Edwin began to share his childhood and journey to America. He became more than just an acquaintance in my Social Studies class. His story is real and not just an article you read in the school newspaper.
Q: At what age did you and your family come to America?
A: “When I was 12 years old.”
Q: How was your life in El Salvador?
A: “It was horrible. I couldn’t go out at night, sometimes, and have fun because gangs were out. They would rob, and kill people, and shoot at each other.”
Q: Why did you and your family come to the U.S.?
A: “My parents didn’t want me to join a gang, because there are a lot of gangs in El Salvador, so my life was on the line. I didn’t have a choice.”
Q: “How did you and your family come to America?”
A: “We came by boat.”
Q: Do your parents speak English? If they do, how long did it take them to learn?
A: “Both of my parents speak English, but only a little bit. It took them about 8 years to learn, but they still don’t know a lot.”
Q: When you first came to America what was the hardest thing you had to go through?
A: “I feel like being the new kid is always hard, but also I couldn’t speak the language. People would make fun of me, and call me names like “chent” and “wet-back” so trying to prove myself was one of the hardest things.”
Q: How is your life now that you are no longer in El Salvador?
A: “Well my life is way better now; I speak and write the language, and I have better opportunities. It feels good to be able to go outside at night and not be afraid of being hurt.”
Q: Do you ever visit your hometown for vacation?
A: “I can’t visit, even if I wanted to, because it’s very dangerous. There is a chance me and my family can get hurt.”
Q: Do you think immigrants coming to the U.S. help the country?
A: ” To be honest, there are hard working people who help the economy, but…there are also criminals who come here. I believe they [immigrants coming to the U.S.] are mostly hard working people.”
It is clear that Edwin Lopez has a lot to offer. We are lucky he made it to America. He is determined to let nothing stop him from being a successful citizen of the United States.