By Frida Hernandez-Aguila, Veterans Memorial High School

During Hispanic Heritage Month many are reminded of the culture of their homes, the homes that many immigrants had to leave. Leaving home and making many sacrifices for a better life, to be able to reach for the “American dream.”

“About 12 years ago, my family made the tough decision to leave our only home that we knew, which had our family, language, and culture. This decision was made on the pure thought of having a better future,” said Miranda Revilla from Veterans Memorial High School in San Antonio. This is a story about the immigrants that come undocumented and the ones that do come here legally but don’t make it because they were blinded by the idea of the American dream. “As stated by my mother, the American dream is ’overrated,’. It does not mean that a person can’t achieve it. But means that it is too sugarcoated for the immigrants that hear it,” explains Revilla.

Not just because a person crossed that line at the border that divides the troubles of their country and the future does it mean that they have accomplished it. This is not the finish line for many immigrants. Many of these people leave their countries because of poverty or violence from the government or gangs, just to have to get two or even three jobs to be able to survive.

The money they earn is not kept but sent to their families back home. At this point, they only know how to survive, and their chances of living the life they dreamed about are limited.

Even the ones that come here with all the right documents still have to fight for many years against the culture shock and the new way of life. “When first arriving in America, the first house that we had was too big, our skin color was not the same shade as the rest, our language was exotic to them, and our food had a strange smell,” Revilla says. “We used to see ourselves as less than the Americans, and we had the idea that they saw themselves as more. Though it is the years that have taught us that we are not less or more but just people trying to live.”

The entertainment industry in recent years has worked to show the troubles that immigrants and people in Latin America go through. The 2014 movie, Llevate a Mis Amores, directed by Arturo Gonzalez, shows the journey of hundreds of immigrants from across Latin America that take the train known as, “La Bestia”, because it causes many deaths. The 2019 movie, Ya no Estoy Aquí, directed by Fernando Frias, shows how even after coming to the U.S., a young man running away from the cartel couldn’t make it. The 2021 movie, Noche de Fuego, directed by Tatiana Huezo, shows the violence experienced by many Mexicans on a daily basis from cartels. The song by Natalia Lafourcade, “Hasta La Raiz,” talks about how even living in America she will never forget her roots in Mexico. The song by Calle 13, “Latinoamerica”, sends a message about the injustice experienced in Latin countries. We show our culture and troubles through works of art to be able to get the message through to those that need to hear it, and we hope for them to see it.

Miranda Revilla, a first-generation U.S. citizen from Veterans Memorial High School, reflects on her family’s experience as immigrants.