A Better Life
Marielos, El Salvador
Interviewed By: Stephanie Castillo
“I used to hear people say that America is good, the only thing that is true is that you can have a better life than [in] your own country”
To go on, start a new life in this country that is not mine. My country is the smallest country in Central America; is El Salvador, [it] only [has] about 14 cities. Nice beaches they have over there and the weather is hot all the time, 100, 110 degrees every day. Over there you just keep sweating and sweating all day long no matter what type of clothes you wear and is nice [over there]. I like because is my country, but I think it is a nice place to live but, now that I am here I don’t think the same. I don’t like my country to live anymore [it] is different. Well everything is different like the streets the places are different. Now is more dangerous over there, all of these people who get departed from here, from Los Angeles go back and too much gangs, so [it] is more dangerous as [it was] 11 years ago. You don’t feel safe anymore. [In America] I can get out [of] my house and walk and know that I’m going to come back home safe. If I walk in my country maybe, I won’t go back home anymore cuz is too dangerous. [The] people [and] the weather are differences [between here and my country]. People think [in] different ways. People in my country don’t like to help each other. Whoever has something, they have it. They don’t [like to] share it, and in here what you have you would like to share with people, you like to help. The differences in weather is that in here is cold and is not summer time here; [it] don’t feel like summer time. [In] my country, you can see the [four seasons]. Is cold all the time in here. I came [a] long time ago and a lot of people help me. Friends, my mom’s friends [helped me by] telling me how life is here, prepare me for jobs and all that, take me to places that I needed to go, [and] to go on with my life. In my country no one would care if I don’t know how to go [anywhere], that’s my problem. In here people try to help you.
[I settled with] my mom, working, having two jobs at the same time. [My first job] was a dishwasher [person]. I have to go all the way to concord to work. That is my first job I have here when I came I started working like four months after I came. The second job was in a fast food place. I used to prepare food and then the last one I had was a cashier [person] in a shoe store. Well, I was applying and applying some jobs I couldn’t get them, so whatever I got first is what I got no matter what, how far it was I worked, I was just throwing applications, filling them up as everyone else. From these places yeah like in the first one, I always like to be in the back doing dishes and cutting stuff. I always felted so bad to be back there, so one time uh my boss told me do you want to go up in the front and help and I said no, no thanks, I don’t want to, and I wanted so badly to get out of there. I was so scared, when you come here because the language is [a] big problem, when you don’t speak it. That was my first one I think that is the only thing I can tell you about it. What I remember, I was shaking myself scared, but then after that I just remember I always stay away from others, don’t talk to anyone because first of all the language and second of all I didn’t know anybody. People look at you different worse when you are Latino they give you that look.
My plans were bring my kids with me one day because I had to come alone and leave my kids behind, so that was [my] priority, to bring my kids. Yes, it was [hard], is easy to think but hard to finish what you start, that’s the hard part. It was hard because [it was] horrible [leaving my kids], [I was] sad all the time, but that keep me to be stronger and [I] always dream about [having] my kids with me and that was what I did, a year after I went back to my country and [got] my kids, so it was worth it. I decided to move to have a better life for my kids and me and plus my mom has to bring me here, so I had to take the decision, take it or leave it, and I took it. My papers were done, so I have to come. [I came here] by plane. I [felt] scared because I didn’t speak the language, that was the hard part not speaking the language when you don’t know nobody, you scared, I was nervous all the time when I came here I came out of the plane and I was just nervous, shaking, I didn’t know what to say to the people on the immigration department. They will speak or they will speak English, how do I answer [the] questions, all that. It was scary; I think everybody think and feel the same way, nervous.
One time I was in the bus stop. That was the next day I arrived here to this country, and this guy was coming to me and I was putting my face to, you know turning around and “excuse me, excuse me” and I say yes, but my hands were down and he couldn’t see my hand, “do you know what time it is?” I have a watch I was wearing a watch but I covered it because I was scared to answer wrong, when you don’t speak the language very well people make laugh at you, so I just covered it with my other hand and said I’m sorry and just pointed like this I couldn’t even say I don’t have time. I couldn’t even say “No English” because I was speaking it you know. Wow, I feel so bad that day and I knew how to read my watch. When you come here, you don’t speak the language, you just scared to speak it, that was one of the awful time.
I went to this school near to the apartment I was living, is in San Francisco, is called Barlet, so I went there like a for three months and after that I went to City College on 4th and Mission, so that’s how I learn and I still learning it. I always get up in the morning and go to school always happy to go to school and learn something that was going to help me in life. Yeah is always hard to learn a new language but I liked it [and] enjoyed it cuz I’m not scared anymore to speak it, either I don’t speak perfectly, but at least I’ll try. I feel so happy because that was the only way I can just [go on] with my new life in this country, because [then] you [won’t] feel so down when somebody wants to ask you a question, like I felt that time I couldn’t even say the time having a time. [English helped me] a lot to find a job, to feel the same as others because people look at you different because you don’t even know how to express yourself. People don’t care if you speak it or not speak perfect or no. At least understand it and speaking it you feel the same like them. English is the language you are suppose to speak in this country. [I learned English] to face my new life, to go on I don’t wanna be those people that come to this country and stay for years and don’t speak a word. I don’t want my children to translate what the people say. I think that is the worst thing you can do come to this country and you don’t even try, so I didn’t wanna [embarrass] myself, that’s why.
To make money, that was one of my goals to make money so I can give to my kids a better life. I want them to have what I didn’t. I wanted it to do all the possible could cuz that was my point, to change, to do something different, so I have to do whatever I have to do. Yes, I did [accomplish my goals] because when you have something on mind and you want to do something you have to fight for it until you do it, you don’t have to just think and don’t do it, if no you will think if I could do it or not. When you start something, you have to finish it. Yeah, everything is hard, as hard as it [the] most you [will] appreciate things, because nothing is easy, nothing is hard and everything is possible, so you have to keep doing it and you get it. At the beginning [I struggled] because of the language. Yes I did [conquer my fear] when I was speaking the language I was so happy that I could just scream as happy as I was cuz that was my first goal. Yes, I would do it [again] cuz I don’t have any regrets about leaving my country to come here and have a better life cuz if I would stay in my country, I will never have what I have now. I have [a] family and I am happy. [I would change] to have less fear cuz sometimes I feel scared sometimes still but I think I’m stronger now than before. I don’t [regret moving] because I did everything I came for and I did it. [I learned] to be stronger and to keep going.
From my journey, I learned to always keep your head up high and never give up. If I gave up on my goals, I would not the life I have now. My children would not be able to have the opportunities they have today. People come here for a better life, a life that they probably cannot have in their own country. I learned that not everything in life is easy and you have to try your best and hardest to have a good life.