Coming to the United States has been a dream that my family has always had. I was not considered poor but I was in the lower class. My parents envisioned better life for my siblings and me. I am one out of eight children and at that time, the only children my parent really had were my little sister, brother and me. Everyone else was grown and they had their own lives in the United States. My parents wanted that to be us as well, to have the same good life my older siblings were living. They dreamed about better health care, a better living environment and lastly a better education. I don’t think anything else could top of this dream for my family. On September 24th, 2009, this dream finally became a reality. It was very important to come to the United States, because if I didn’t I don’t know what my life would have turned out like.
When I first moved to the United States I remember it like it was yesterday. I was nine years old telling my mother I really didn’t want to come to the United States because I had a lot of friend in my neighborhood. I didn’t experience change before moving because I went to school with the same children from kindergarten all the way through fourth grade, so moving was going to be very different for me. My stepfather left a month before my family to make sure where we were going to go was a place that was right for us. A month later on September 24th, 2009, my family was reunited. When we got to the United States, we arrived in Logan Airport in Boston. Soon after, my aunt had to drive my family to my hometown which is New Bedford, Massachusetts. I lived with my aunt for about a week and my family quickly found an apartment which was across the street from my aunt. When we moved into our first apartment the only furniture the apartment had was two twin beds which was for my siblings and I to sleep on. My parents slept on the floor until they could buy themselves a bed and furniture for the home. Yes, the living conditions at first were not ideal, but nine years later with a lot of hard work and effort my parents were able provide my family with our first real home.
The next step of my new life in the United States was the enrollment of my siblings and me in school. It was probably the most nerve-racking feeling ever. I was going to a new school, with new people, new teachers, and a different environment. My first day of school was quite interesting. I was in the same class as a child that was sitting a couple of rows from me on the airplane, so at least I had a friend. I was placed in a bilingual class but mostly everyone was Puerto Rican and Guatemalan. The teacher they assigned me was very sick so I didn’t meet her on the first day of school. My substitute teacher was very friendly and now nine years later I still have contact with her and she is a family friend. I remember I was so shocked because everything was so different from Puerto Rico. I was very surprised that I had a substitute when my teacher was absent, because in Puerto Rico if the teacher was absent then people were allowed to go home. If the teacher was absent for a week then I wouldn’t have class for a week. There were no make-up days if school was cancelled multiple times. In Puerto Rico since it was tropical, recess was for an hour outside. In America, lunch was supervised, recess was for twenty minutes the most and it wasn’t always outside. My parents saw that my education in the United States was the best that I have every received from the moment I stepped foot here. They could imagine me going far in life and being successful, the moment they saw that I had adapted well to the United States and their education system. This is as much as I remember for my first days in the United States. It was a time in my life that I was experiencing new things and getting to know new people. Everything else is a blur to me, the first few days impacted my life forever.
It has been nine years since I have been in the United States and nothing feels better than being here. United States has been something my parents always thought about. Healthcare in Puerto Rico was awful and they didn’t want my siblings and me to go through the same struggles they went through. The struggles my parents went through in Puerto Rico with the healthcare system impacted their health in an enormous way. For example, my stepfather had diabetes and since healthcare was handled poorly, he was not getting the proper medication to treat his condition. There were many times that my parents had to pay out of pocket to buy my siblings and me medicine. The health care plans were not resourceful to cover medical expenses which was an issue in my family.
United States has been nothing but a blessing. I am glad my parents decided to make the decision they did. I am very happy with the outcome and how far my family and I have succeeded. We have had our struggles such as learning the English language and adapting but no one said it would be easy. Everyone in my family including my stepdad’s health has been benefitted because of the great help the healthcare system in Massachusetts has provide us. The living environment in the United States has bettered our lives because there is nothing better than a welcoming safe home. Education has been the best part about my life here, because I have come a long way as an individual. I have made my parents proud by being the first out of eight to make into college. I am accomplishing and still reaching to accomplish things that were probably seen as impossible in Puerto Rico. I could not be more thankful for them for deciding that the United States was going to be our new home.
* The contributor of this story has asked that their name be withheld.