I have been studying in the U.S. since I was 14 years old. In the beginning it was not easy to be in an unknown country. The language seemed unusable, the people different and – for me – it did not make sense to be in a country that was not my own. Little by little I started to understand the opportunities of living in the U.S.
During my Study Abroad in Monterrey, I have learned to be Mexican, to know more about my culture. I went to Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende for Independence Day; those two cities were very important for the independence movement. The cities were decorated with flags and there was a parade in the streets of San Miguel de Allende – it was beautiful. Everyone was having fun, we saw how people lived in 1810 and how the movement started. It was great to be there in a place were so much history was made, and it was great to see how indigenous fought for equality and a just country.
Mexico is a country that fought to be independent, and finally was independent. I was happy and proud about it as I saw the parade. Well I felt happy and hope just for a time, because when the parade was over and the tourists were out of the streets the only people still sitting on the streets were indigenous and they were asking for money.
WHAT?! How can that be possible? They fought for what they wanted in 1810. Why are they still living in poverty? Was I was the only one that saw the contrast? Was I was the only one who felt like time had just passed but discrimination and poverty still almost the same?
Mexico did not seem so happy at that moment. It seemed sad, damaged by its own people. The worst thing was that I did not realize it at all until I saw the big contrast.
I came to Mexico to know the real Mexico, to understand my roots better, but what I saw in San Miguel de Allende broke my heart. I wish tourists could see Mexico as I do, as a country full of damage, with blood and injustice everywhere – it’s not only tequila and tacos. Mexico needs everyone’s help to grow, to be better. It is horrible to face the truth, to realize that a country that you love has not changed since 1810.
Don’t get me wrong, if you have the opportunity to visit Mexico I encourage you to do it. I would like everyone to see what Mexico is. It’s hard to realize and tell people the truth about how things really are in a place that you love, but I know I can make a change while I am here. There are a lot of associations to help communities. I am willing to do whatever it takes to make a small change or a big change, it does not matter. I just want things to be better for Mexico. In my university I enrolled in human rights and emigration eight-week courses where I will get a certificate upon completion. I know it is not a big thing, but I need to start doing something, and if I want to do it right, I need to learn first about Human Rights.
I am Mexican, my roots are Mexican, I speak Spanish, I know my culture, my people, I can feel my country and I know the issues with the government.
But for the first time in almost 10 years, now that I am far away from the U.S, I can say that I also feel American. I miss it. When people asked me about the U.S. I tell me them how beautiful it is, how awesome California is, how delicious In-N-Out is. I encourage them to go, and I realize that I am part of American culture now and I love it. I am American, I speak English, I know what my people feel, I know my government. I know that the upcoming election is horrible, but that does not matter.
Mexico and United States are two beautiful countries that I love. They made me who I am, and shaped what I believe. I give thanks to my two homes, the United States and Mexico.
Sije Vargas is earning a bachelor’s degree in Spanish at the SDSU Imperial Valley Campus. She is attending Teconologico de Monterrey for fall semester 2016.