I grew up in Cape Verde in a small town call Praia. My life there was very simple, and my parents always tried to give our family the best that they could to their children. At five years old, my parents divorced; this was a sad experience. Although living without my father was very hard for me, it didn’t change my relationship with him. He was still always there when I needed him. Even though, my parents separated their dedication for making sure that my siblings and I were happy and safe was a priority.
Despite my parents being divorced, my family was still united and happy. My father was always looking out for me when I needed help and some advice. My mother had the opportunity to come to the US on November 10th, 2010. She had to leave so that she could find a better life condition and a better opportunity for our family. My little sister and I, we had to stay in Cape Verde with our aunt, until my mother had a better life condition in America. It was extremely hard for me to stay away from my mother because unexpectedly my family suffered a tragedy. My father collapsed during one of his soccer games due to as sudden heart attack. I mourned my father’s death for a long time to the point where I had moments I felt empty inside. My family and I had a hard time accepting that my father wasn’t alive and we would never see him or hear his voice. I was only seven years old when my father passed away. Since then, my mother has been taking care of me and my siblings on her own. She has made many sacrifices to make sure I had everything I needed: love, care, and access to education in order to be successful in life. My father was my backbone and my expert in everything. I used to go to him every time I felt insecure and frustrated in life.
On March 23rd, 2012, I came to the US. It was difficult for me at first to be in America. There were many times I felt that if my father had been here, he would have been able to help us face our challenges better. Since my mother did not know any English it was left to my aunt to help us with the transition in the US. My first day of school was very challenging because I didn’t know English, and it was a very arduous task for me to make friends. Although, I wanted to fit in, but the main reason I tried to learn English was because my mother didn’t know English. Also, because my father always taught me to work hard if I wanted to accomplish my goals in life. I wanted to repay my mother for everything she did for me after my father’s death.
To improve in English, I started to watch TV shows and movies in English. I read books with illustrations, which helped me understand the basic words and my cousins spoke with me in English so that I could push myself to practice and improve. In school, I was very timid and scared to speak with other students, and I was worried that if I spoke to them, they would laugh in my face because I have Cape Verdean accent. Some students used to laugh at me, and since that day I am this shy girl. I am still traumatized about that day. I was ready to give up but my mother used to tell me this quote almost every day “ Don't let anyone put you down, always believe in yourself and no one is better than you. To always have a positive mind, and have faith in God and his protection.” This quote kept me going and it shaped me into the person I am today.
My struggles with English were worth it. I will face many difficulties, but because I have my whole family by my side and my faith in God everything is going to be alright and I will succeed. I’ve learned and I am still learning that even when things are tough, I have to keep trying and never give up. My father’s death made me focus on school and care more about what’s important in life like don’t pay much attention how other people treat you or describes you because other people's judgment doesn't define who you are. I will never have a perfect life again without my father, but I know he is watching over from up above looking down, and I will make him proud.