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As I stared out the thick glass windows of the Norman Manley International Airport, tears washing down my cheeks, the plane took off. It hit me: my mother was leaving. I was only nine years old, with the heavy load of separation on my shoulders. My mother was leaving to live in the United States, while I would stay in Jamaica.
The first few years of her time in America were the most difficult of my life. I cried myself to sleep each night and occasionally asked God, “Why did my mother leave?” Only my grandmother’s words, “She left to build a betta life fi you and your brodda,” reassured me, reminding me that her migration had nothing to do with her feelings towards my brother and me. It was not easy for me to wake each morning, knowing that the doors of dreaming about being with my mother would close, and I would enter the reality of being separated from her. I found hope through constant prayers and occupied my time with school work. My mother promised that upon her return she would take me back to the States with her. This was music to my ears. It allowed me to become stronger and cope with our separation, and in July 2004 my mother returned to Jamaica.
Reuniting with my mother felt like being given another chance to live. When she came out of the car, I ran and jumped into her arms. We both cried tears of joy – but they soon transformed into those of sadness, as I realized it was time for me to leave all I had ever known. It opened the same wound from which I was recovering. On my way to the airport, I looked out the window, admiring my beautiful country, “mi home.” I knew that I was leaving to relocate to a country of great promise.
My transition to the United States was difficult. I was only 14 years old and I missed my friends and family dearly. In school, I soon realized that my accent set me apart from my classmates. I became fed up with the constant, “Whaat?” so I became mute. My accent symbolized my nationality, so I had no intention of losing it. Rather, I learned how to turn it on and off depending on the situation.
Despite the difficulty of the first few months, I have realized that coming to the U.S. has opened doors to endless possibilities. I have been exposed to engineering and robotics, fields that I would never had known of had I stayed in Jamaica. Today, I am a much stronger and more confident person. I am able to easily adapt to new situations and relate to a diverse group of people. These will be great assets throughout my college experience and in my life. Looking back on these past years made me realize that I can overcome anything. I have experienced a child’s worst fear, that of being separated from my mother and my home. This has given me the skills to face and surmount any challenge in the future.
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