Almost three years ago I immigrated for a second time to the United States. I was ready to become the best I could be by finishing high school and continuing into college. I knew that it would be hard to assimilate to a new country but I believed that I would find support and comfort from other students who also had roots outside of the United States. But that was not my case.
I continued high school and graduated in two years. During those two years I achieved little contact with the other Hispanics. I was not required to be in the English as Second Language (ESL) program because my English was good enough for me to take the normal classes being offered. I was even accepted into an advanced placement English class. My contact with other immigrants was poor because of the courses I took and my intent to assimilate by speaking mostly English at school. I was accepted into the National Honor Society at my school, and unfortunately Hispanics were a very small part of it.
I felt alone and isolated. I did not find people who fit my lifestyle. I needed friends who I could relate to. I remembered my friends in Mexico, and those who best seemed to resemble them in my new environment did not seem to accept me or acknowledge that I was one of them. I felt that I could identify more with them, but for some reason they did not identify with me. I continued high school with no close friends.
I do not fully understand the reasons why I could not create a relationship with the other Hispanics, or vice versa. I can only make assumptions. Possibly the biggest factor was my desire to assimilate. I worked hard to fit academically into high school, and I believe that I succeeded. I required no special assistance as an immigrant to do well in school, as many other Hispanics do. Within a short time of my arrival I was able to overcome many academic obstacles. Unfortunately many of the Hispanics in my high school viewed assimilation differently than I did.
Now that I am in college my relationships with other people have changed. I have friends who are Hispanic and others who are not. I have found support and comfort in many people during my first year. I believe that everyone has different goals and challenges. Today, many of my friends share my values, beyond nationality.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.