Maria arrived in the United States at the airport with her two young children and a suitcase of their belongings. She was meeting her husband who had already been working in the United States.
While it has been 21 years since Maria arrived, she remembers her first days, months, and years vividly. They bring tears to her eyes as she remembers how difficult and painful it was to feel alone, to not speak English, to send her eldest daughter to school without knowing where she was going and if she would return.
“These memories, they make me strong. They force me to be a better person and never take for granted that we wake up in the morning and have the opportunity to work. I have never missed a day of work, I have never called in sick,” said Maria.
Her daughter would eventually teach her how to speak english after she would come home from elementary school, which led to her current job as an interpreter.
She is grateful for the opportunity to share her story and for the people who have helped her and her family along the way.
For the First Days Project, she remembers an incident that helped her get through those early struggles with the English language.
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This story was produced in partnership with the First Days Project.