First Generation Abjection

Judy Romero, Feature Editor/Photo Editor

According to Google, in 2019, 44.9 million Mexican immigrants resided in the U.S. That alone is a huge number. Now imagine the amount of first generation children born from that number. Many first generation kids, including myself, have felt the lack of help with education and the high expectations of immigrant parents.
Many people born outside of the U.S. have hopes of migrating to the country in order to not only have a better life for themselves but for their children. My parents migrated from Mexico in hopes of finally having a stable life for themselves after their marriage. Although my parents didn’t get here very old, they were late to get an education here and turned to work instead of trying to learn the language.
After I was born, the chances of them getting into education decreased, as now my dad had to work for longer hours, trying to maintain his small family of three, and my mom had to stay home with me. As I grew older, English was nowhere near my vocabulary. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and the very few cousins I had, all spoke Spanish. Going into elementary school was the hardest part for five-year old me.
I was forced into an environment where everyone spoke a different language and seemed to know what they were doing. Homework was the most stressful part of school. My parents didn’t understand my assignments or what I was saying. For the first six hours of my day I had to speak English and while at home I had to transition and train my brain to speak Spanish. I grew jealous of my classmates, as most of them had older siblings or even had parents who knew English and helped them with schoolwork.
For the first-generation student, school life consists of feeling isolated within your own age group. Managing Mexican culture at home and having to automatically switch to American culture at school is hard for an elementary student. You had to see your classmates manage it so easily and it makes you feel not only secluded but also dumb, in a way.
In my opinion, I would say that first generation students had to work two times harder than those students who were born into an English speaking household or who had older siblings who spoke English. Compared to my younger sisters, I tend to do better in school and had better test scores when I was their age. This is because thanks to me speaking English in front of them and their very early access to the internet, immensely favored them.
With hardship, comes the expectations of parents. You are the example for your younger siblings and you will eventually be someone they look up to. Being the oldest, I felt that my family would look at me first and expect the most from me. Although to most, this may seem like something that would ultimately lead to overthinking and even feel pressure from family, it only motivates me more to conquer and possibly overachieve those expectations.