This I Believe

John - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on December 17, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Perseverance in the Common Man

When I was eight years old, a couple started to clean my house every Monday. Their names were Edwin and Nubia, and they had immigrated to the United States from Columbia. For the next five years, Edwin and his wife continued to clean my house, and for five years I looked down on them. I scoffed at the fact they made a meager living by doing services I considered to be no more than mindless chores. My condescending attitude towards them continued until I was thirteen years old.

Two weeks after my thirteenth birthday, I was told that next Monday would be Edwin and Nubia’s last visit to our house. For all of the five years the couple had been cleaning our house, my family had never asked about their old life in Columbia or their first experiences in the United States. Because Monday would be the last time we saw them, my mother mustered up the courage to question their pasts. She casually asked them if they had to go anywhere after they finished cleaning our house. Edwin replied that our house was their last job of the day. I noticed my mother’s eyes widen with anticipation, but she quickly regained her composure. My mother then asked if they could tell us a little bit about their pasts. Edwin grudgingly straightened his back and agreed to indulge us. I managed to interpret Edwin’s overall meaning through his broken English.

Edwin began his story by saying that he and his wife lived in a middle class area of Columbia with their two daughters. He mentioned that he and his wife both held respectable job positions within their community. However, Nubia became pregnant with their third child. For Edwin and Nubia, this meant that they would have to find higher paying jobs to support their family. Edwin decided that he and his family would immigrate to the United States and see what job opportunities were there.

Edwin and Nubia arrived in Atlanta and used what little savings they had to pay the rent for a one bedroom apartment. For two months Edwin searched the city for jobs. He was continuously rejected by different companies because he could barely speak English, and because he demanded a job for Nubia as well. Finally, Edwin found jobs for both he and his wife at a domestic cleaning company.

Edwin continued to talk, but I turned away. I could not imagine going from middle class status to a one bedroom apartment. I could not comprehend the fact Edwin looked for two months in search of a job he wasn’t sure would be waiting for him. I could not believe I ever looked down on them. Then I realized that it was Edwin’s perseverance that overcame the obstacles in his life, and it was his perseverance that destroyed the ignorance in me. Edwin taught me the true power of perseverance, and perseverance is what I believe in today.