On Friday, February 3, Dean of Faculty Boni Luna, Administrative Assistant Ana DeMeo, and Middle School Spanish teacher Adriana Arroyave shared their personal immigration stories with MBS 6th Graders, who are studying human migration in their geography classes.
Each speaker discussed the “push-pull” factors that led them to leave their homeland and seek a better life in the United States.
Spanish teacher Adriana Arroyave was born and raised in Medellín, Colombia, where a history of colonization and political instability led to wealth inequality and increased violence in the 1980s. “It was a dark period in Colombia,” she recalled. “There was a lot of violence and it wasn’t safe.”
Sra. Arroyave’s parents believed strongly that the United States could provide a better economic future for her family, so they decided to leave Colombia. She recalled how difficult it was to put all of her possessions into two pieces of luggage and starting a new life in the United States. Still, she closed her presentation with a photo of her daughter’s graduation from the University of Pennsylvania and stated how education has always been a point of reference for her, and is the best opportunity for success.
Ms. Luna and Ms. DeMao both emigrated from Cuba – and amazingly enough, both attended the same schools while growing up in Union City, New Jersey, although they didn’t meet until Ms. DeMao began working at MBS seven months ago. Ms. Luna was born in a mountain village in Cuba while Ms. DeMao was from Havana. They each recalled their family’s desire to emigrate in order to escape the military dictatorship there.
Ms. DeMao left Cuba with just the clothes on her back after receiving no more than 10 minutes warning. Her family first moved to Spain, then Costa Rica, before finally finding an opportunity to come to the United States.
Ms. Luna was able to come to the United States with her grandparents when she was just 7 years old, although she was forced to leave her parents and the rest of her family behind. “That left a really big hole in my heart,” she said. “For 12 years, I didn’t see my mother.”
Each speaker spoke about the sacrifices that their families were willing to make to give their children a better life. They also reflected on the transformational power of education.
“My family knew that education was the ticket out and the best way to lead a successful life,” said Ms. DeMao. “I have instilled that passion for education in my own children.”