Migrant Education Services
A Book Without a Title
Each person has their own story. Mine starts as a book without title. It is full of happiness, conflicts, sadness, and drama, like any other book. The difference with my book, however, is that it doesn’t have a title nor any academic references. It contains my own anecdotes and life experiences. I am not sure what the book will talk about or how it will end but what I do know is that it is about what I am going through. To be able to finish the story, I must overcome my fears. I must live with the knowledge that I might never see my family again, I must adapt to a different culture, I have to start working at an early age, and I will not have the same rights as other people. I must understand that they will call me a criminal...that I will be prosecuted and even worse, I might have to pretend to have a different identity, while the real me lives hidden in the shadows. My story is similar to that of millions of Hispanics who face the same challenges every day to achieve the American dream. The same American dream that could transform into the American nightmare. There are many obstacles in achieving this dream; to overcome the fear of leaving your family behind and not seeing them again, to learn a new culture, to work when you are very young, to not finish school because of lack or money or legal papers, to live with the fear of deportation, to be treated differently, and to live under a different identity and hide yours behind the shadows.
A problem that many young Hispanics face is to be illegal and have to work at an early age. This is the case of Ezequiel who says “I started working at the early age of eight” (Cynthia, Iselda, Ezequiel and Albert, 2016). Per Ezequiel’s statements “it was a shock to work as an eight year old in the fields.” I was luckier since I started at the age of ten. It was very difficult to work so young since you are not ready to work and sometimes get paid half since you can’t do the work of an adult. Ezequiel and I have a lot in common. Both of us started working at an early age and just like him, I also go to school from Monday through Friday and work at the fields with my parents. Just like Ezequiel’s parents, mine would like for me to continue going to school so that I don’t have to work long hours under the sun, suffer accidents that will never be reported, and deal with the consequences of the weather they face for the rest of my life. It is not a crime to work, but working at such a young age changes the whole concept of the American dream.
The limitations that many Hispanics face in the United States make them stop going to school in order to work longer hours to make more money. As it is mentioned on Harvesting Hardships in Florida (Free, Kriz, Konecnik, 2013), one of the biggest difficulties that migrant students face is the low pay their parents receive, which leads them to live below the poverty level as well as the lack of health benefits.
Many people are under the impression that moving from one state to another every year is a distraction and that it allows you to meet different people and see new places. In reality, the change is much harder. Having to pay for the house you live in, paying rent when you arrive to another state (that is, if you are able to find a home since it’s very difficult with the migrant status) makes the moving experience very traumatic.
Another difficulty many Hispanics face is the change of schools from one state to another because the requirements are different. The school system in the north is different from the south. For example, Florida requires 24 credits to graduate from High School as well passing the statewide assessments, while in South Carolina students only need to pass all their classes to graduate. In Florida, I take seven classes while in the north I only take four. The difference in number of classes, affects migrant students that move in the middle of the year and don’t have enough credits when they arrive in Florida. The school transition also affects the financial stability of the families since we have to purchase new school supplies. Another difficulty Hispanics face is the lack of staff that speak Spanish and are able to communicate with our families. This situation leads to students translating for their parents so that they can communicate with the school. The lifestyle of the migrant student has a negative effect on their education. There are many obstacles we have to overcome to graduate, however, the biggest of them all is the fact that we will not be able to continue our education and go to college because we are just shadows.
Hispanics face a lot of difficulties in this country. Everyone’s story is different but at the end we are united by one objective; the search for the American dream. Mine is only a small part of other million stories from Hispanics who want a better life. Hopefully, one day these difficulties will stop being a nightmare and turn into the desired American dream.
Cynthia, Iselda, Ezequiel and Albert. Migrant Workers’ Children. (2016)
Free, Janese., Kriz, Katrin., Konecnik, Jenny. Harvesting hardships in Florida: Educator’s views on the challenges of migrant students and their consequences on education. 2013