Immigrant stories: Woman decided to become an American
In 2005, Adriana Ayala was honored as Colorado’s Teacher of the Year. Colorado was recognizing what her students have always known – Adriana is devoted to helping young people succeed. Here Adriana describes how her experience as a teenager influenced her desire to help others. Adriana Ayala: I grew up very close to the border of El Paso, Texas. I was very familiar with life in America through media and trips that we took to El Paso. So when I came here I was basically seeking the American dream. I wanted to go to school, and when I moved to America I was pregnant. I was very young, and I thought that I could still go to school in this country and fulfill my dreams of getting a college education, and I didn’t think that I could do that in my native country. I came here when I was about five months pregnant.Walter Gallacher: Whom did you come to live with?Adriana Ayala: At that time I had some relatives that lived in El Paso, Texas, so I moved in with them.Walter Gallacher: Do you remember the day you left Mexico?Adriana Ayala: I do. It wasn’t very pleasant. It was the beginning of November, and I had not gone back to work, or to school. I had decided not to go back to school in September. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, and I knew that I had to get a job. I knew that I had this new responsibility. My mom had been a single mother. It was a tough choice to leave her and my home. My mom was a housekeeper, and she cooked for people. We were not rich by any means. We were rich in the sense that we had a family and we were very together. My mother was always very loving and caring. We used everything she made. But I didn’t want to lead that life. She always told us that she couldn’t really leave any money for us, but she wanted us to be educated. So, at that point, I said, “Mom, I think I’m old enough, I’m leaving. This is not the life I want to lead. I want to be an American.”Walter Gallacher: Did your mother encourage you to go?Adriana Ayala: Yes, she did. She was upset and she was worried, but we lived close to the border, it was only four hours to my home town. So it wasn’t like I was going to go clear across the world. My mom was one of those people that encouraged others to do things. She used to say that life belonged to those who were intrepid enough to follow their dreams.
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