It’s Sunday afternoon and I am nerdily sitting in the Cupertino library. For those of you who grew up in Cupertino, you know this is a pretty typical weekend activity. For those of you who didn’t, gaggles of teenagers pass time together studying for the SATs gathered around library tables or strew about couches rather than visiting the beach or seeing movies. Maybe it is because of its familiarity, but the library has always been a place of comfort and I often find myself there in times when I find my brain muddled or confused.
But now it’s not really confusion I feel, but almost a sense of guilt. Working in restaurants since high school, many of the cooks of I have befriended lack the legal immigration status necessary for them to be able to go home and revisit Mexico. And yet, with little difficulty, I can visit their native country. In fact, in order to obtain my year-long visa, all I needed to do was supply the consulate with a bank statement, passport, and photos. I didn’t even need to pay a fee to be processed (I will have to pay one in Mexico however.).
Every time I bring up my study abroad trip at work, a cook will tell me of their home and that if I get a chance I must visit. “My niece is still in Mexico City. If you go there call me and I’ll have her show you around,” or “Do you have a place to stay? You are more than welcome to stay with my family,” are comments they have repeated again and again. While their excitement and hospitality is overwhelming, I feel as though they are depending on me to bring back news from their hometowns. If they cannot visit firsthand, I am the next best way for them to see what has changed and what has remained the same. After all they have taught me over the years and have shared with me about their struggles, they have become my second family and I want to do them justice. I want to take advantage of how easily I can cross the borders that separate them from their loved ones and hopefully be able to bring them a little closer to the good of what they left behind in their search for a better life. Personally my most important goal while I am abroad—understanding the complicated aspects of Mexico and trying to better understand what makes so many people feel they need to leave behind their children to head al norte.