This I Believe

Kyle - Park Hills, Missouri
Entered on December 11, 2007

A Lesson Learned by Someone I Hardly Knew

America has always been called by people looking in as the “land of opportunity”. We’re a country envied for our freedoms, admired for our people, and immortalized for the so-called “American dream”. But, I think Americans take away these opportunities from foreign people. As a more conscientious person, I think Americans should realize all that we have to offer and start giving it. I believe we should try harder to accept people from outside our borders.

I live in a small town, but not so small that everybody knows everybody. It takes about five minutes, a trip slowed by one stop light, to drive from end to end. We have a small theatre with two movies, about five gas stations, and few restaurants. The busiest restaurant is named El Tapatio. Run by employees that have come from a small town in Mexico, the business my town gives the restaurant is an example of the “American Dream”. But, this isn’t always the case.

Driving through my town, I’m sure to see at least one Hispanic person, if not more, walking on the sidewalk. Because of our local Hispanic population, my town has become one that is characteristic for being discriminate against Hispanic people. Sadly, it’s something even our own kids are taught by their parents. This discrimination has become something that is intertwined into our daily lives.

No more was this shown than when my high school got a Mexican foreign exchange student. As I walked into my second hour English class last year my eyes were quickly drawn to Estella. After an introduction from Mr. Bradley, I introduced myself. I was excited to get to know her and learn everything I could from her. But, this dream was short-lived. The next day I noticed Estella was missing. After asking a couple people, I found out that she had went back to Mexico; I couldn’t understand why she would come all this way to just turn around the very next day. People told me Estella had been called by several students “wet back” and made to feel she just wasn’t welcome. The feelings I had after hearing about this are almost indescribable: rage, fury, and even hate. I hated my fellow students; I couldn’t understand how they could be so mean. People didn’t take the time to get to know Estella. People didn’t go out of their way to treat her like a friend. People didn’t even take the time to care. This makes me ashamed and embarrassed of the people of my school and town.

From this event in my life I realized something about myself. I never want to be the type of person who doesn’t give someone a chance. I believe everyone in this world has something unique and special to offer; by take the time to get to know people we can learn from those people. Estella, a girl who I never really knew, is the person I have to thank for helping me to realize this.