I haven’t gone back to my home for two years. This is going to be my third year at Dartmouth, as in not leaving Dartmouth at all. At first it was very rough, because it would mean that I wouldn’t get to see my mom for another four years because I am not able to fly without a state ID. My family isn’t doing well financially and my mother doesn’t have Internet. It’s hard to keep in touch with them. I haven’t talked to my family in a while. Last time I saw my sister she was 11 and now she is 14, about to be 15 this May. I haven’t seen her for a long time.
I cannot support my family from afar because I am not allowed to work. And Dartmouth doesn’t have any options for undocumented students when it comes to paid jobs, because we have to go through the federal roll pay, and you need a social security number for that, so I can’t do that. I could find a job or position where you are helping a professor and you get payments in stipends, but those are really hard to come by. It has been a struggle, where I can’t work and makes me feel so useless, and it’s so uncomfortable to be at Dartmouth and not being able to work. People always ask, “If you are having financial issues, why aren’t you working?” I can’t tell them why I’m not working. Or when they ask, “Why you aren’t going abroad?” Or other questions about the “Dartmouth Experience.” Because I can’t, I can’t even take those Alternative Spring Breaks because I cannot fly across the states; its very frustrating because even the simplest things become so difficult.
The most difficult thing for me is that I’m not able to embrace the part of my life that is an undocumented migrant at Dartmouth. I have not been able to educate others about it. The fact that I cannot embrace that here, and say, “Yes I overcame this and no your wrong its not like what every undocumented experience people think we have, its not just about farm workers. Its about children like me, students who have not seen their lands for years and do not know anything but this country.” Being undocumented doesn’t mean illegal. Its not brown, it doesn’t have a color; it’s a status that anyone can be found in. Any immigrant can be found in it eventually. Its been a very frustrating moment where you become a ghost, and you become accustomed to this; its what my girlfriend, Jamilah would call, “A culture of silence.” No one talks about it, no one cares. Not even those who you would think be your allies, I mean we don’t talk about this thing on a daily basis in the Latino community. Sure we say that we are opened to it, and we will accept it, but we need to act like we see things to show that, we can’t just say that you accept it.
The way the college itself doesn’t let you have the structural entities that you need to feel welcomed—you are just thrown into this ocean that my counselor told me about in middle school. I hate it because it makes me feel like I need to be critical of Dartmouth but at the same time, I am so grateful, I mean, I love this place. I love it to death because it has been my home and has given me a home for three years. If it wasn’t for Dartmouth, I would be homeless most of the time. All interims, every single block of time when I’m not taking classes, I can always come and rely on Dartmouth for housing. I don’t take that for granted. I know that I have a lot of really close friends at home who are undocumented and they don’t have what I have. They would die to have what I have. I know that at least there are a million of individuals who have been working their asses off for six or seven years for their undergraduate degrees because they are in this situation where they couldn’t get into a school like Dartmouth. I know that any attempt that I make towards being critical towards a place that has fed me, housed me, and giving me an education will be seen as being ungrateful, and that’s the last thing that I want. I was brought up to always be grateful of those that have helped you. I’m found in this really weird situation where Dartmouth has been great to me, but I know that it has not been great to everyone. I know that it has not always been great to me, I know that it has the potential to be great to everyone and that’s why I do the things I do. Not because I hate it, not because I think it’s the worst place in the world, because I know that Dartmouth has the potential to be the greatest place in the world for everyone.