I was born and raised in El Salvador and how I came here — actually my mother immigrated to United States first, leaving my siblings and I back in El Salvador and then we came here to United States.
What was the most challenging aspect of immigrating to the United States?
A lot of things were challenging. I think the language. Getting accustomed to the language, the culture, the — leaving a part of us back in El Salvador. That was challenging, too.
Do you still speak Spanish at home?
My mother (laughs) will do things that are not very nice if I didn’t speak Spanish. No, I’m just joking.
Do your children communicate in Spanish at home?
Do you speak, read, and write in Spanish? I mean, I was born and raised there until the age of 14, and my children do speak Spanish. My oldest is fluent. She reads and writes. And the younger — we’re working on it. But they do talk.
What lessons did you learn after immigrating to the United States?
There’s several lessons that that we learned as immigrants but I think one of the things I’ve would love for people to see is that we are very persistent and resilient, hard-working people. I like to be an encouragement for all the people that are suffering because of fear of immigration and all that. Keep hanging in there.
Yessenia and her mother Maria’s full story is available in “Untold, Unseen, Unheard: Perspectives on Immigration.” All book sales support future Writing Wrongs journalism events and activities.