LA River School

Immigration & a fresh start

stef in mexico with friends Immigration & a fresh start
Photo courtesy of Stefany Lagunas

Sitting in the dark with dust in her nose, there is a doll whose owner never showed up to claim her. Almost 4,000 miles away from each other, Stefany Lagunas and her quinceañera doll, are separated from each other. Although Lagunas does not regret moving here to the United States, she does indeed have missing pieces of herself.

Lagunas always sees the bright side of the situation she is in, and strongly believes that with hard work she will succeed. Starting from zero more than once is something not a lot of people want to do, but Lagunas is not like other people. She filled herself with confidence to start new friendships and leave behind some as well.

“I always find a solution for any obstacle that crosses my way, because things get hard sometimes and when I see the darkness, the only way to go is to the light,” Lagunas said.

Her life has not been a rocky road, but neither has it been a rainbow.

stef and i senior sunrise Immigration & a fresh start
Photo courtesy of Octavio Perez

After knowing her for about four years, I noticed the similarity we both share, which is bi-nationalism. She was born in Mexico City, El Distrito Federal, and I was born here in the U.S.

The first time she came to the U.S. was around the age of seven, and I was on my way to Mexico at that same age. Then she went back to Mexico to finish elementary school, while I was also in Mexico finishing up elementary school. Then at the start of the seventh grade, we both ended up in the same middle school, Irving Magnet.

We even shared a class together but were not yet friends. She was the new girl and then I was, just days after. Our friendship started to bloom at the start of our first year in high school at Los Angeles River School, in our first period Biology.

I still remember how much we both were surprised at the fact that we shared similar timelines on our trips to Mexico and back. I always thought Lagunas was born here in the US due to her way of expressing herself in a rich a vibrant tone and sophisticated vocabulary.  To be honest, I admired her since that first day and knew we would become great friends.

stef in beutiful view Immigration & a fresh start
Photo courtesy of Stefany Lagunas
stef and family Immigration & a fresh start
Photo courtesy of Stefany Lagunas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the months went by, and then years, we both started to discover that no matter how rough times were, we both had our backs. Sometimes I still forget she is not “born here.”

The reason why I forget is because most of the time I’m the one whose Latin roots blossom more, and my accent is heard while I talk as compared to Lagunas’, whose is barely noticeable.  

But it’s hard to tell when all I see is her giving her all in anything she puts her mind into because of the way she became the Associated Student Body President of our high school. The way she motivates others to be a better version of themselves no matter their legal status, because she knows that their status is not an excuse or obstacle they can’t overcome.

“I really thank my family for always being there for me in the malas and the buenas situaciones, throughout my life, and the altered time frames between my trips from country to country,” Lagunas said.

I asked Lagunas if she had all the money to have a decent life and to never suffer from any economic crisis, would she do it? She answered no.

“It’ll feel as if going to Mexico would just be felt like a vacation [and] not feel like home, because everyone I made a strong connection with is already here in my country; the U.S.,” Lagunas said.

The feeling of leaving something behind back in her hometown is still there at the center of her heart. While she may smile and forget sometimes, that little doll’s eyes are far away from seeing the light.

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