I recently publised a post about getting an employment opportunity in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was an amazing chance to grow professionally, and pesonally, it would have allowed me to pursue academic and work endeavors…but unfortunately, I am not allowed to take the job.
As an undocumented immigrant, my choices of employment after graduating from UCLA are fairly limited, and although I am a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient and have a valid work permit, I still cannot catch a break. You see, my professional aspiration is to be a Forensic Anthropologist (no I did not choose it because of Bones), moving to North Carolina was going to be a great opportunity for the following reasons:
- Teach Children, the future of this country. I love to teach, and as a Forensic Anthropologist I HAVE to teach, since it is not a technical job, it is mostly research.
- During the summer I was going to pontentially participate on the research project of the amazing David Samson, a Post Doc Professor at Duke University. That’s like any recent graduate’s wet dream! (at least to an Anthropologist)
- David was going to groom me to apply for Duke’s Graduate program in Anthropology (hopefully)
Although right now I am not working in my field, I am doing various projects, but ultimately that is what I want to do, so I thought that Teach For America was a great opportunity to have that first contact with students. You see, I researched TFA, and it has a lot of criticism such as launching recent graduates to teach underserved communities thus not providing the necessary support they need. However, as an undocumented person, I also know that human beings are capable of marvelous accomplishments, and that you do not need a degree in pedagogy if you know your subject and are willing and TRULY want to attempt to make a difference in your area, and HONESTLY want to teach, not just a passing adventure to build your resume.
Sadly, it seems that TFA did not do their research throughly and after months of waiting, anticipation and studying for the Praxis exam they called me and told me that I couldn’t go to North Carolina. True, I should have also done my research, but I trusted them, because they are supposed to be a credible institution.
What can I say? When they told me that North Carolina doesn’t allow accreditation from DACA recipients, my heart broke. I haven’t felt this way since High School, and that is huge because I went through a brief lapse of depression at that time.
When I was a Junior in High School I went to my counselor and told her I wanted to go to University, and obviously she proceeded to tell me about all the UCs and Cal States and FAFSA and all that good stuff. At that time I wasn’t truly aware of what it meant to be Undocumented, I didn’t have any real responsibilities in High School so for me it was mostly a word, so nonchalantly I informed her that I was “illegal”. She looked at me closed her pamphlets and with all the seriousness told me, “I don’t think you can go to College, I suggest you consider going back to your country, since you won’t be able to do much here without your papers…or just get your green card“. I do not believe she was racist or said those things to me out of spite, she was just grossly misinformed. As a 16 year old child I broke down, I got angry at her, the school, the system, the country, my parents, my friends for having that stupid paper I didn’t have just because they were born across the street, and now Teach For America did the same thing to me. I cried because I was sad that I had to go through this AGAIN, I got angry because of their misinformation, causing me pain and disappointment and embarrassment because now I have to tell Dr. David Samson that I cannot participate on his research. Now I have to tell my parents that once again I cannot get a decent job to fully help out with the finances of the family and send them to Mexico to rest and see the remaining of the family they have alive.
So I cried, I tried to hold it in when they just kept rambling and rambling although they could hear in my voice that I was about to lose it. I stayed in my bed for at least half an hour crying and cursing everything and everyone, like a 16 year old teenager.
But I have gone through this before, and I am stronger. After crying I was determined to make it work, now I am waiting to see if I can transfer to Sacramento and develop my skill inside California.
You know, I must admit that I sometimes feel like I can’t breathe. I feel trapped, and I shouldn’t feel chained because I am very fortunate to have an education and food on my table. However, I sometimes marvel at the unfairness of it all, and I cannot comprehend how a piece of paper can make or break you, how is it possible that everything that it means to be human comes down to borders and laws and politics…greed? It is unfathomable.
Although I considered that I handled that situation better than almost a decade ago, I did feel angry, I cursed God. Now you might not believe in God, but I do, and I decided He was a fictional character and actually felt relieved. I went through a dark phase, I insulted my friend George (he is a devout Christian) when he was just trying to make me feel better, and I went off on him. Then I seriously considered marrying for legal papers and George still tried to smack some sense into me, but I pushed him away and insulted him further, “Shut it your face, you are a white Christian male, doesn’t get more privileged than that”. I mean what kind of person would say that to a person that is your friend and loves you? A hurt person…a person that feels like everything is against her (which it is not true, but anger makes you think, feel, and say things that are erroneous). I hope he truly forgives me.
I decided to share this with you because maybe you have gone through this as well, but let me tell you…you will be ok. I know, it sounds cliche but it is true, we cannot let ourselves be drowned, we must keep fighting and doing the best we can, whether we make it in this country or the next. This forced Undocumented identity must be destroyed within you, in order to find some peace within ourselves. I am a strong powerful person, and so are you. Don’t let your situation break you, instead use it and rise above it all, you will be surprised of your strength and resilience. It is ok to cry and be weak sometimes, but don’t dwell on it, look forward and concentrate on a goal, whether it is spirituality, career, romance, friendship, or your community, there is always something to be done, and who else better than you?
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