My name is Juan Maldonado.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Detroit, Michigan



Middlebury, Indiana

What was your first day in the United States like?

Well, it was cold. I remember when I came out of the airport, I was feeling that my face was falling off because the cold was... I never feel that way before. In Honduras, we don't have that kind of cold, so the weather is pretty like 70, 80 degrees every time. And when we got here, it was around probably between 30 and 40 degrees. So it was pretty cold. I was really excited also because I never seen an airport that big like the Detroit airport. So I was excited also because it was my first time in United States.


It was a little bit scary when I went through customs and it was in Fort Lauderdale. And it's always scary because you don't know if you're going to be sent back to your country because when you get your visa pretty much, it just give you the access to come to a customs border and then is when they decide if you can get in into the country or not.

Familiarity & Relief

So after I went to customs in Fort Lauderdale and I arrived to Detroit and I see Erika and my mother-in-law. It was a big relief. It was really exciting because everything was new. Like I remember just thinking like, this looks like the movie that I watch.
So that was pretty fun. Then we drove. That moment we were living in Hawley, Michigan. So it was like an hour away from the airport. We drove there. I remember the first meal that I got was White Castle. We got like the box with like 30 small burgers there. So that was fun. So that's why I always say that my favorite fast food here is White Castle. So, even if not right now, but it's my first time. So it was my first time, so I always liked that.

Meeting New People

Then meeting all the people, a lot of people was aware that I was coming because Erica has the nonprofit organization, so a lot of people was willing to meet me the same day. Even I was tired, but it was really nice to see all the people welcoming me and being really nice to me. So, it was a great day.

Adapting to the Weather

And after that I was really tired because to get here, like, probably 12 hours, even the time flying is not a lot, but you have to do a lot of stuff in the airport, like customs and stuff like that. It takes some time to get here. So, other than that, I remember I didn't have a big jacket because I didn't know what I was coming for. And that was the first thing that my mother-in-law did. We went to get one jacket and tried to get more comfortable with the weather. And now I love this weather. I love being cold.

Even my hometown is not that cold, but I don't like heat. So I don't like the summer here because it's too hot. So that's what I remember like exciting day, a lot of like anxiety when I was going to customs because you heard a lot of history like people just get sent back to their countries But other than that, it was a really exciting day.