Last December I posted a story or two about the local Latin stores in town, and I showed you a picture of the baby of one of the Guatemalan immigrants I met during the interviews. The mother is a young woman who lives with her parents who run one of the stores. She goes to high school during the day and returns to the store in the afternoon where her husband and baby daughter are waiting for her, where her parents need her to help with the store and help translate should a fast-speaking American like myself coming barging in and asking all kinds of silly questions. The girl can speak English, Spanish, and Q'eqchi' (her mother's native language) all in one sentence if she needs to.
The parents were so proud of their daughter because she is the first person in the family to attend high school. In the more remote areas of Guatemala, schools are difficult to get to—of course there is no bus service and there are no enforced laws keeping kids in school up to a certain age. You're on your own, and too bad for you if you live too far away from a school to even learn the basics of reading and writing and arithmetic.
This morning, I learned the young woman with the smiling baby has been dumped by the school system because she is too far behind. It was a bit of a blow to her father, but he has been able to get her into our English classes where I volunteer. It's the long way around to getting your high school diploma, but with hard work and patience, she'll get there. The next step after our program is the GED program, and from there, she'll only be limited by her imagination.
Of course I know that's not really true. It's quite possible this girl will be hindered by all kinds of circumstances, and life might be hard for her regardless of her education, and she might never catch a break. But I'd like to think that won't be the case. And next week when I will be assigned to helping her learn to read better, I hope that recognizing me as a familiar face and seeing other immigrants succeeding might give her enough encouragement to not give up.