Immigrant Stories: Glenwood Middle School students share their immigrant voices

Walter Gallacher

Immigrant Stories author Walter Gallacher recently compiled written stories from students in Glenwood Springs Middle School’s Bilingual Voices English Language Development class, asking them to share their family stories, from their own perspective. Here are some of the stories.

Arturo: When I was a year old, my parents left me with my grandparents and came to the U.S. to create a better future for us. Over the next four years, they called us every day to make sure we were all right and then one day we weren’t.

Gang members had started recruiting my oldest brother. My brother didn’t want to join them, so he left for the United States to live with my parents. Four years later, the gang members came for my other brother so he fled to the U.S to join my parents.

Two years later, a drunk driver hit my cousin and I while we were riding our bikes. I broke my knee, my ankle, my toes and my ribs. They operated on my leg four times and I was in the hospital for five months.

A year passed and then my grandfather died. It was very sad for me because he was the one who raised me. It was Christmas time, the saddest Christmas ever. The person I loved the most was gone forever.

That’s when my parents asked me to come to the United States. I hadn’t seen them since I was a baby. I left Guatemala and spent four days traveling through Mexico. When I got to the border, I was very anxious and scared.

I spent two days in a place called “the icebox” and three months at a children’s home in San Antonio, Texas while my parents proved to immigration that I was their child.

When I first saw my parents, I was overcome with emotion. I finally felt free! Today, I am living with them and my brothers, enjoying my favorite pastime, skateboarding.

Oscar: I finally get to be with my mother after 10 years. Now, I am in Glenwood Springs, and I feel a lot better because I have a good school. I love the snow and the climate here. It’s not as hot here as in Honduras. My goal for the future is to become an engineer who designs cars.

Ali: I felt nervous and excited — nervous because I had not seen my mom in so long, and excited because I finally got to see her.

Abraham: I was born in Glenwood Springs and lived with my parents and my sister and brother. My dad didn’t have papers and finally my mom had this idea to go to Mexico City to get them.

We left for Mexico City and stayed with my uncle. We waited two years for my dad’s papers. One day my grandma called from Colorado to tell us my mom’s brother had been shot. My mom left for the U.S. and we stayed with my dad. A year later, my uncle died. We went to his funeral but my dad and my little brother had to stay in Mexico because they didn’t have papers. We are a mixed family.

When we returned to Mexico, we found out my dad’s papers were ready. But then there was an earthquake. Everything got ruined and we had to wait.

Finally, my dad got his papers and the day came for us to leave. I started going to school again and it was hard because I had forgotten my English. It has been a process to learn English again. I am glad to live in Glenwood Springs again with my whole family.

Diego: My family and I like the United States because there are more opportunities for us here. My parents were able to find a job. I go to a better school. I made new friends, and I am learning English.

Jordi: Out of nowhere, they shot my uncle and other people at the restaurant. Then some men started looking at my dad strangely. We lived fearfully every day. It was getting so bad, my brothers and I were no longer going to school for fear that the gangs would do something to us.

When I started attending this beautiful school, GSMS, I felt nervous because I didn’t know anyone. But now I am learning English, and I like it here.

Maria: I was born in Glenwood Springs and when I was six years old, my parents decided to take us back to Mexico because my grandmother was dying. My father had left two years before to take care of her.

Two weeks after we arrived my grandma died and then three months later grandpa died. My whole family was so sad because they protected us from everything.

January 17, 2016 was just a regular day. My dad took us all out to eat and then we went to my aunt’s house to visit. My dad left us there and went to do some work at the ranch and on the way back he was shot and killed. Just like that, my dad was taken from me forever.

About a year later, rumors started spreading that the same people who killed my dad wanted to kill everyone in my family. That’s why we moved back to Glenwood Springs, two years ago.

Although we have a better life here in the United States, I still miss my dad and my relatives in Mexico.

I have big goals for the future. I want to help poor people. I hope to become a doctor one day.

Michelle: I had been so excited about coming to the United States — it had not crossed my mind that saying goodbye to my mom, my little sister, my grandparents and my best friends would be so hard. I was so sad and scared.

Jefferson: I am glad we moved. I am happier here. Our schools here are safer and offer better learning. I am thankful my parents brought us here.

Joel: I was born in Oregon and, three months later, my family moved to Michoacán, Mexico, where my father’s parents lived. When I was 5 years old, my father returned to the United States for work. I stayed in Mexico with my sister and my mother at my grandparents’ house.

Two years later, my parents separated and we had to move to Chihuahua where my mother’s parents lived. Six more years passed without seeing my dad and then one day last summer, I was talking to him on the phone and he asked me to come live with him in the U.S. He had asked me many times before, but this time I said, ¨Yes”!

Soon after arriving in Glenwood Springs, I started school. I was very nervous because I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t speak the language. Slowly I got used to it, and I like it here. I have new friends, and I am learning English. My goal is to go to college.

Eileen: The gangs kept asking for money and threatening us. They stole our car tires, broke the car windows … My dad told me he didn’t want the gangs to take me and my brother. It was so hard to say goodbye to my mom and my little sister, but I am so happy I don’t have to worry about all that violence anymore. I have a better life here. After high school, I want to become a veterinarian or a doctor.

Tamara: I was so nervous to start a new school. I soon found out that my teacher spoke Spanish. ¨Phew. That’s good,¨ I thought. Now I am happy here learning new things.

Dennise: Glenwood Springs Middle School is a much better school than the one in my country. I feel I have better teachers here. They teach me well. They care about teaching and learning, but also about us as people. I want to be a marine biologist one day.

Anahi: Even though I didn’t want to move here at first, I now like it here. What I like most is to see the seasons change, especially in autumn time. I love seeing how trees look so colorful, so beautiful. I like my school, and after high school I want to be a doctor or a veterinarian.

Melisa: Now, I feel happy and safe here. I am in school learning English. My goals for the future are to learn English well, and go to college to be an English teacher.

Edgar: Coming to the United States is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am safe. I am learning English. I have good teachers, and I have made new friends in school.

Eva: Six months ago, my family and I moved to the United States to be safe. We were always afraid of danger and crime, but one day the fear became our worst nightmare. It was Christmas Eve and the day began beautifully. We cooked our favorite Christmas foods and everyone was happy and celebrating. After dark we set off fireworks. Suddenly, we heard some shots.

The next morning, they found my cousin dead with bullets all over his body. A few months later, a drunk man shot and killed his dad, my uncle.

There was violence all around us all the time. And the worst part of it was that the authorities did nothing about it. The murderers walked freely in the streets. My parents decided we had to move somewhere to be safe.

In a matter of days, we got ready to go and started our trip here. It was a long journey. One month later, the longest month of my life, we arrived at U.S. immigration. They separated my father and my brother from the rest of the family. I was scared and tired of feeling hopeless.

Finally, we arrived here. I no longer have to be afraid like I was in my country. It has not been easy, but I am happy and grateful to be here. I hope to become a doctor one day.

Walter Gallacher’s Immigrant Stories series appears monthly in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, with companion audio stories shared on community radio station KDNK, and at

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