Apolinar's Story

Apolinar's Story

"Leaving behind my family and town was as dying alive"

I am filled with joy to be able to share Apolinar Islas’ story. I recently met Apolinar at a creative writing workshop and when I first heard his story, I knew I had to share it. He is one of the bravest people and dreamers I know. As I have said in my past articles, I believe our strongest weapons as dreamers are our stories. It is truly an honor to be able to share Apolinar’s story. Apolinar’s words were filled with perseverance, love and longing.

1. How did you arrive to this country?

I arrived to this country as a nomadic person, I crossed the México-USA border by foot at the age of 15. According to the law, I came illegally, but according to my knowledge, I came here under the natural rights which make me a free living being. At that age, I was as ignorant as the law was. Although I didn't want to come here nor go anywhere else far from my family, I came pushed, and obliged by necessity. I felt like I needed to be free and to develop my personal perspective of life to reach the maximum potential of my existence.

2. Did you have people waiting for you?

I came to live with my older sister Maria, who took care of me as her own son. Nonetheless, the coldness of this country made me feel alone. Besides that, I miss my other family members and I miss the fresh air of the campo in which I was born.

3. What do you miss most about Mexico?

I was segregated from my family because of the oppressive inequality offered by the Mexican government which forces me to conform to the mud of its injustice.

4. What was the most difficult part about the transition?

The most difficult part about transitioning was the adaptation to American culture. Here, Holidays are not holidays. Here, life is working and working and then more working. Time passes by faster than light. Christmas is not Christmas. Everything is about spending money and about being closed off at work, home, and in the train. The language was hard to learn and even harder to speak, but it wasn't as painful as being apart from family.

5. Did you ever experience hate or discrimination?

Discrimination welcomes every immigrant in this country. At first, I didn't notice any sort of hate. It felt like the wind on my skin. And as the wind, discrimination is hard to see, since I was never discriminated against before. Therefore, I didn’t know it was being done to me. In fact, discrimination and racism were one of the first faces I met here in the USA. I felt it each time my check was not enough to resolve my needs. I felt it each time I had to work 10 to 12 hours without a break, for 6 and sometimes 7 days a week. I felt it every time my bosses refused to pay me more or at least right wage. I felt it every time I was denied to eat at a table at work since I had to eat standing and quickly. It was food that not even dogs would dare to eat. I felt it each and every time people looked and still look at me as if I am an inferior being. But now that I know, and I learned the hard way what discrimination and racism are, I know how to recognize the feeling of being discriminated against. The good thing after that, is that I learned I have to face the reality of being immigrant. And because of that I started studying again.

6. What were your plans when you first arrived?

When I came here I arrived with the main purpose to work hard and support my mother and siblings in México, and I did it. But after President Obama allowed the youth to stay through DACA, I dropped the plan of going back to Mexico and made the decision to go to college. But of course I wish to go back to my town and would rather be there than anywhere.

7. How are you going to school now?

By DACA and the Dream.USA Scholarship for DACA recipients. Also, I’ve worked in many campaigns, and communal things such as helping people register to vote. I have also volunteered in nonprofit organizations, and I woke up to dream again. I realized that it is never late to restart and continue my education and that I could help just by adding my “grain of sand” to help our community—our families.

8. What are your aspirations?

My aspirations are many. But in sense of career, I will be an economist and political scientist because Mexicans have no representatives.

9. Has anyone ever discouraged you from attending school or fulfilling your aspirations?

I was discouraged by the circumstances in which I was in. For example, I had to help my family by working and only working in order to get money to support them. As I grew and time passed, I thought I was a bit old to continue but mostly because I didn't have the enough money to pay my education and my needs and my family's needs.

10. If you had the option to not be an immigrant would you choose it?

To be an immigrant is not a choice because anyhow, humans are migrants by nature. However, if I had the choice of not emigrating, I wouldn't. Leaving behind my family and town was as dying alive.

Cover Image Credit: Atlantic

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.

Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.

Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Our Leaders Need A 'Time-Out'

We all learned a few essential rules as children.


As I look watch the news, I can't help but wonder if the lessons we learned as children might not serve our leaders well. They seem to have forgotten these basic lessons. I am reminded of the book by Robert Fulghum "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten."

Watch out, hold hands, and stick together.

I think this could be useful in a couple of different contexts. First, the current divisiveness in the country doesn't serve us well. We are first and foremost, a part of the family of humankind. Differences in politics, religion, and so on come in far behind that one important attribute. What happened to the notion of agreeing to disagree?

Second, when leaders get off a plane in another country, they should remember who they came with and who they represent - "watch out, hold hands, and stick together."

Clean up your own mess.

Trump seems to take great pleasure in blaming everyone else for their "mess." The government shutdown was someone else's fault – any Democrat. When the stock market went up, he happily took credit, but when it went down, he quickly shifted gears and placed the blame on the Federal Reserve Chairman. Daily and hourly tweets out of the White House place blame on someone else for his "mess." Sadly, he still likes to blame Obama and Hillary for his mess.

Don't lie.

Politicians have always had a bad reputation when it comes to honesty. Still, the number of lies that we hear from Trump (and members of his staff) is unprecedented even for a politician.

We all learned these lessons when we were little more than five years old. Now more than any time in history I think our leaders need a " time out" to re-learn these lessons.

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