My life circumstances
The circumstances we are born into are not necessarily the ones we stay in. Our obstacles and disadvantages, while real, should not stop us from moving forward as people. I know this all too well as an undocumented boy not covered by DACA. This has been especially difficult when thinking about college, campus visits, and financial aid. The thought of the future frightened me to the point of emotional breakdowns, but I have always bounced back afterward. Each time I am brought to tears and headaches, I have also been filled with a yearning and push to create change. This need to learn about my situation and others in it as well as to help them made me break my shell of fear and frustration.
Flying on a plane is something that I have never done or even thought about doing. To me, flying has always been something that didn't seem like a possibility given my circumstances. However, when my program, SEO (Sponsors for Educational Opportunity), nominated me for a wildlife preservation program in Montana, joy and excitement filled my body. These feelings quickly faded and left room for worry and confusion to enter. How big of a risk is this? Should I buy boots? What if I get caught? These questions raced through my mind and the possibility of trekking through grass plains was replaced with the possibility of getting deported.
"Me nominaron a ir a Montana para el verano," I told this to my mom. I knew that me getting on that plane to Montana wasn't realistic, but I was optimistic and hoping she would be too. She played along often adding on to this fantasy, but when the date to get on the plane started getting closer she told me, "The risk is not worth it. Another chance will come." There were no tears. There was no anger. I understood why, as being robbed of opportunities wasn't uncommon. Having no independence because of my circumstances wasn't uncommon. I have learned how to deal with these losses-- I needed to.
The plane had taken off and I was still on the ground. It is not my fault I wasn't born a citizen. Realizing that I had no program this summer I started searching for any that would accept me. Given the fact that it was late June, most applications were closed. However, this did not deter me from trying to find one and so I kept looking. Eventually, I found a photojournalism program named PROOF: Picture Justice. Chance was on my side since the only reason I got into the program was because someone had pulled out last minute. Going in I wasn't sure how to use a camera, what proper interview ethics were, or how to approach a random person, but within the first week, I became the face of the classroom. The three weeks spent in this program allowed me to step out my comfort zone, voice my opinions, and allow me to meet countless New York City activists. Not only this but PROOF introduced me to an organization ran by undocumented youth for undocumented youth called NYSYLC (New York State Youth Leader Council).
No longer thinking of Montana, I was immersed in an environment where I felt safe and confident to speak my mind and not burdened by my status. The lessons and people I met in NYSYLC the opportunities I attained from them are all invaluable to me. That time spent in Canal street learning about topics from private prisons to reproductive justice and rights meant more to me than a plane ride. My summer was not what I expected it to be, but it is one I will always remember.
Our circumstances do not dictate our lives, just as mine did not dictate my life. College will not be a dream for me regardless of my status. The time to act is now.
(the final chain of sentences I am not so sure about)