Dirt. That’s all I saw around me. I looked outside my window and could’ve sworn I had seen that same mountain 500 miles back. I moved to the humble and unbelievably quiet town of Tarimoro, Guanajuato in 2005. I still remember holding onto the last image of my beloved City of Angels as our plane departed the LAX airport. Below me were my two suitcases. I was to pack my 14 years of life into two measly suitcases, and to make matters worse, they had a limit of 50 lbs. That night I left behind the city I grew up in; the pestering smog, the scorching heat, the infamous L.A. traffic; it was my little portion of perfection. As I looked around the United Airlines B747-400, I saw composed, sleeping passengers. They were all going somewhere they call home. I wasn’t; I was going to a place my parents spontaneously chose to move to. A life-changing place I will never forget but, most importantly, never regret.
When we landed in Mexico the next morning, I was hungry and had to go to the restroom. Instead of asking someone for directions, I held it in. I conveniently didn’t know how to speak Spanish. The language barrier had officially been taken into effect and to my luck I started school in two days. Enrolling in a Spanish-speaking institute required me to a language that I had always carelessly pushed aside, not giving it much importance as a child. Accustomed to being an above average, studious student, it was to my concern where my life was headed when I began to receive below average grades in Mexico. I realized that the source of my academic downfall was a lack of communication with unfamiliar faces in such an estranged environment.
The first step I took was accepting that I was at fault for not allowing others to approach me with help; for example, my mother, who had persistently tried to influence me to become bilingual ever since I was a child. After realizing the significance of an educationally-driven future, regardless of the place and which language is primarily spoken there, I slowly allowed myself to open up to my peers and asked for their guidance until I was ready to work on improving my Spanish individually.
Throughout the years I lived in Mexico, I endured many hardships with simply keeping in mind my goals of becoming the surgeon I had always dreamed about. While living there, I was surrounded by poverty; an economic place that I didn’t think could possibly exist. Seeing a single housewife buying tortillas for her children with little money helped me realize that opening one’s mind is the key to a successful future. I, unlike others living in this small town, was fortunate enough to have come from a country where success was difficult, yet attainable. Growing up in an urban city where the glamour of Hollywood was just down the street makes it easy to turn your back to the importance of education. I had finally embraced my roots. I went back to where it all began; where my ancestors made a living and were not submerged into a world of Facebook and iPods. Moving to Mexico gave me the strength to move back to California and pursue my American Dream; my dream of becoming a reconstructive surgeon to help underprivileged children. I urge everyone to take a trip back in time when lifestyles were simpler, just to realize what truly matters.
It was no longer dirt; it was “tierra,” a part of me.
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