I heard someone scream my name as I was getting out of my car heading into the Pocono Medical Center. Then I saw a familiar face: Marialides. She is a warm, enthusiastic woman from Venezuela. There was a beautiful teenage girl with her. “This is my daughter, María” she said.
I met Marialides two years ago when she read about me in The Pocono Record. It was article about my Spanish radio show, then on WESS (where I started). She was excited that the Latin community was being addressed on the radio. We kept in touch and last week she called me brimming with emotion, “ My daughter is graduating from high school, next week. I’m so proud of her achievement”. She invited me to her graduation and I was eager to meet María again and hear her story.
María is now seventeen. She came to the USA when she was eleven and it took Marialides three years to deal with the paper work to bring her daughter here. “We will get together, you’re mine forever and I promise you we will be reunited,” her mother kept telling her in their phone calls.
When María finally got to the US she had no clue how to speak English. When she saw her new school she thought, “Is this an airport or a hospital?” The buildings of Stroudsburg Middle School were bigger than anything she had ever seen before. She was in awe. At first she would get lost trying to find her way to classes, but was guided by a new Puerto Rican friend and the school staff. She also told me that everything looked big to her in the US, from the size of the bottles of Ketchup to the roads and even the traffic lights!
She started taking ESL classes (English as a Second Language) and three years later she knew enough English to go to regular classes. Her last years of high school she got College Prep and Honors. Her mother had tears in her eyes as María told me about her experiences. “I also joined community service programs, Key Club and Best Buddies that helps kids with special needs.” “I wanted to get to know my community better and give back” she told me. “What’s next?” I asked her,” I want to be a physical therapist”, she said. “I like sports and want to help people and the scientific words for body parts comes from Latin, related to Spanish, so it helps me remember the words”
María told me she wanted to inspire others to follow their dreams. “It’s not easy to come to a new country, learn a new life, the language, and to adjust. You have to think positive and take advantage of your opportunities. And when that happens, make the most of it.” Congratulations Maria, another American dream come true.
Christina’s radio show, Tu Voz con Christina, is at 8 a.m. every Sunday on Pocono 96.7. Email: Christina@pocono967.com