Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What I'm Thankful For.

Being undocumented.. well.. sucks. There are many things that have been denied to me because I don't have that little piece of paper. I can't find another job because I know I wouldn't be able to find one legally. I can't drive a car because I'm unable to get a driver's license. But most importantly, I can't go to school full-time because of the super expensive international tuition I have to pay. And let's not forget the awkward conversations that arise from these such as "Why don't you drive?" "You're still in school? Aren't you 21?" "You've been working there for HOW long??"And while all of these things should make me not want to get out of bed in the morning, I can't help but feel optimistic of what next year will bring.

You see, being a DREAMer is not only about being an undocumented student. It is also about being a fighter. Every day, DREAMers across the country are faced with obstacles because of their status. But instead of giving up, we fight. We fight for our right to be considered American. We fight for our right to an education, for our right to live a normal life. Because we deserve it. We've earned it. And while some people believe we shouldn't be in this country, they will never be able to take away the fact that we are Americans. They can't take away the fact that this is our home.

And while this may shock some people, some good things have come out from being undocumented. This is not to say that I'm glad I'm undocumented, I'd much rather be legal. But I am not ashamed of being a DREAMer. As a result of my status, I value education in a way many U.S. college students don't. Instead of wasting my money on going out and partying, I save it in order to pay for school. I study and work hard to make sure I keep my 4.0. And even though I'm going to have to wake up bright and early next semester, I can't wait to go to school because I love learning. I love homework, I love lectures. But not only has being a DREAMer helped me appreciate school, it has also helped me appreciate life. It has helped me appreciate the things I have; a roof over my head, food to eat, a bed to sleep on. Simple things that many people across the country and the world don't have.

Perhaps I would feel the same way if I wasn't a DREAMer, but there's no way of knowing. Being a DREAMer has made me a better person, and for that I am thankful.

Happy holidays, everyone!


somfolnalco said...

Great Post. I agree with you on some of the things that Being a dreamer brings out it us. it helps us not take the little things for granted

Lu said...

Hope the holidays treated you well Maria!

A. A. Alvarez said...

Nice post Maria, I fully agree with you.

I was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and lived in the United States as a student.

I'd like to share, if you will allow me, a self-quotation to support your post.

"When I went to the park or walked by the playground at the malls, I used to pay attention to the children playing around, not having any clue about the infinite advantages that they had just for having been born on United States soil. Sometimes, I would just sit there for hours pondering about how I would have turned out had I not been raised in Caracas.

Had I been American, Norwegian, Swiss, or Greek, I too may not truly understand how lucky I would be, and as much of a blessing as that might be, I would neither trade the year, nor the place where I grew up, nor having become an immigrant when I did.

Had I not been born in my country at the time I did, today I would not see the world the way I see it and I would not have the joy of sharing my story with you. Had I grown up in a greener backyard, and with nicer toys, chances are that today, I would not have learned to so easily recognize the things that really matter in my playing environment – peace, safety, stability, prosperity, tolerance, and all the other privileges that today I give thanks for every night before I go to sleep. Then again, another young man in the Congo may say something similar, and may even dream of having a Venezuelan passport to live safely in Caracas, where he would not have to worry about famine and genocide. It is always a matter of perspective.

With good parenting, though, I believe that first-world children can too grow to be thankful for what they have. But having a clear and fresh basis for comparison always made it much easier for me to feel truly fortunate at all times. Most importantly, having such a basis for comparison has helped me become who I am, and has also helped me earn the right to be proud of what I have accomplished in my twenty six years of meaningful existence . . . even when I’ve just started to recognize what my life has truly been about."

This was an abstract from my new book, "Chronicles of a Nomad: Memoirs of an Immigrant", scheduled to come out on February '09 through Amazon and all other major online bookstores.

With this publication, I am hoping to spread awareness about the hard work that most young immigrants put in, only to have their dreams shattered as they begin to realize that all their efforts are futile for as long as they lack the piece of paper that makes them a person.

Please drop me a line at:

info @ aaalvarez . com

I would love to e-mail you a complimentary, pre-release copy from www.aaalvarez.com

Thank you, and may this 2009 bring you joy, success, and justice.