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The Trailblazer

  • McNeil High School, 5720 McNeil Drive, Austin, TX 78729

Filed under Columns, Opinion

Not one or the other but somewhere in the middle

Growing up an immigrant in the U.S.

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No soy de aqui ni de alla. I’m not from here or from there.

It is a phrase often used by the children of hispanic immigrants, born in America to foreign parents, who live in a cultural limbo. While this doesn’t apply to me directly, I think about this a lot.

Most of my existence in the United States has been in that cultural limbo. I go to an American school with my American friends, then I go home and my life there is very much what it was like in Colombia. For all of these five years, I’ve felt fundamentally foreign.

Over the summer, my mom became a citizen, and therefore I became a citizen with her. We got a fancy certificate of naturalization, our green cards were cut in half, and by the time we left the ceremony in San Antonio, we were Americans. Even though it’s on a piece of paper, I still didn’t feel American.

Ultimately, I don’t feel American because I’m not wholly American; I didn’t have the shared experiences that make Americans American, such as Thanksgiving, so there is a lack of common ground that’s always been there and probably will always be.

I have a similar feeling when it comes to being Colombian. I feel Colombian very much so, but I often don’t feel Colombian enough. I lack a context that people who lived there their whole life have because I moved when I was child. So I’m left always having to ask instead of participate in conversations and having to research things that Colombians around me just know.

I relate to the feeling of no soy de aqui, ni de alla because I’m not fully American or Colombian. Ever since I moved to this country, I’ve been in the cultural gray area that immigrant children exist in. It has increased as time has passed because I’ve Americanized myself a lot.

When I first arrived, my first language was Spanish, now I speak Spanglish more fluently than Spanish or English. Maybe I’m not one or the other, but a mixture of both.

Despite my conflicted feelings, being American and having that blue passport allows me a great deal of privilege that I didn’t have before. I can travel anywhere, apply for any scholarship, and get better financial aid for college. For that, I am forever grateful.

The love I have for Colombia, my roots, and my culture will always be there but there is no future for me there. My future is here in the United States, full of opportunities that I would have never gotten back home. My family is here, and our life is here now.

It’s all here and it’s all really good.

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The student news site of McNeil High School
Not one or the other but somewhere in the middle