Woman stays connected to family in Uruguay through Internet chat
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Yanina Toranza-Viera is a citizen of Uruguay and a permanent resident of the United States. Eight years ago, she came to the United States as a university student looking for work experience. What started as a six-month trip has become so much more.
Gallacher: Was it hard for you to leave home?
Toranza-Viera: It wasn’t at first. It was my decision, and I really had a good time. But after the adventure was no longer an adventure then I realized that I may not be able to go back to Uruguay to live because I was already starting a life here. I began to wonder what I was going to do and how I was going to make it, being so far away from my family.
I am here by myself, and now I have a son, but my whole family is in Uruguay. So it has become a little more difficult and I am realizing every day that I am going to stay here.
Gallacher: I am reminded of what John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.”
Toranza-Viera: Yes, without even realizing. Now I am more conscious about it, and I think that is why it is getting more difficult for me to face the reality that I am going to stay here and away from my family for a long time, my whole life probably. Hopefully, I will be able to visit them in Uruguay from time to time.
One of the things that helps me stay connected to my family is Skype. It is an Internet chat program that my family also has and we all have webcams. So my computer is on every day and all the time during the weekend. We just work around the house and do whatever we have to do during the weekend. And when my family wants to talk to me they just yell, “Yanina!” And if I hear them I go to the webcam and we continue chatting.
They sometimes take me to the main square in my hometown. There is wireless Internet in that square, so they take the computer and call me and it is like I am there sitting at the club, where I used to be many, many years ago.
Gallacher: What is that like? Is it hard for you?
Toranza-Viera: Yes, it is. Sometimes I try to avoid that, but once in a while I say, “OK. Take me to the square.” I am getting more adjusted to it. But it used to be that just listening to the popular music from my hometown was very difficult. The music would take me back to the question, “Why am I here?”
But again this is what I chose, and this is my life, and I am going to try and make it as beautiful as possible.
Gallacher: Do you go back to visit?
Toranza-Viera: I haven’t been back in about three years, unfortunately. Airfare is pretty expensive, and sometimes my vacation time from work isn’t long enough to go home to visit. It takes two days to get home and two days to travel back. I really need a month to go there and make it worth what I would have to spend. I am hoping that I will be able to go within the next year.
Gallacher: But you do have a choice to return to Uruguay. Why wouldn’t you?
Toranza-Viera: Well, my son was born here, and I am divorced. I wouldn’t be able to go to my country because his father sees him quite often. I want my son to have a relationship with his father. My son was born here, and he will have a life here.
I sometimes think about what I would do if I could go back to my home country. I don’t think I would go, because my family and friends have their own lives. And I have started my own life here. Even though I miss my family and my country, I enjoy being here. And I enjoy living each day at a time.
Gallacher: Was there a particular day when you realized you had become more a citizen of the United States than a citizen of Uruguay?
Toranza-Viera: Hmm. Wow! Probably when my son was born. I never thought about it until now that you asked me. I think it was the day I became his mother that I realized I was going to be here for quite a long time.
Immigrant Stories runs every Monday in the Post Independent.
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