Empowering undocumented young people in their pursuit of college, career and citizenship
STUDENT VOICES IMMIGRATION STORIES
Monday, 6 AM. The phone rings. My aunt comes out in her bathrobe and picks it up. "We are OK," she murmurs, still half asleep. It is my uncle in Hong Kong; I can hear he is worried about something. I want to hear what they are talking about, but I have not come to America to be late to school.
Mr. Murphy is not in class when I arrive. Myra, a girl from the Philippines, says he is talking on the phone and looks awfully worried. When the classroom door finally opens, it reveals a defeated Mr. Murphy. His eyes are downcast, as if to avoid looking at us. I can tell he has been crying. I am sure someone he loves has gotten hurt. What if something terrible happened to my mom? Would I ever be able to laugh again? Would I leave America and go back to Peru for her funeral? Myra asks Mr. Murphy if one of his relatives has gotten into an accident. He is silent for a second, then clears his throat with a weak cough and announces, "America has been attacked."
That morning, the World Trade Center became ground zero. The only thing I knew about the World Trade Center was that they were the tallest buildings in the world, and that they were in New York. I had never been to New York (I had only been in America for 7 months), and I definitely had no loved ones in New York. Mr. Murphy had no loved ones there either, but for all I knew the World Trade Center could have been inside his very body. He seemed to be bearing the pain of the attack: the clouds of smoke made him cough; the meltdown of steel created an overflow of liquefied metal that ran down his cheeks in the form of a tear.
I realized how much Mr. Murphy loved America. I, too, wanted to feel the same closeness to this nation. I wanted to have the World Trade Center inside of me, to feel the same pain Mr. Murphy felt. I wanted to be part of the infinite family, the American family. I wanted to be American. About the Author Mario is one of E4FC's 2007 and 2009 Scholars. He is Chinese-Peruvian and immigrated to the US from Peru when he was 12 years old. After only one year at Robertson Middle School, he ranked seventh place in his eighth grade class. He then went on to Oceana High School, where he was valedictorian of his graduating class. Mario recently obtained his bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from UC Berkeley and is planning to apply to graduate school this Fall.