East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy

Finding purpose

HEY! Stop what you’re doing. What? Were you expecting a great introduction? Nah, let’s get this straight. East L.A. is considered home to most people here, and one of those people is me. There might be some flaws in East L.A. but the culture, the people, and the way they live are different, but the same. Growing up here has made me appreciate the fact that I left Puebla–not that the place itself was bad bad, just my living conditions.

When I came here to East L.A. I was just three years old. I don’t remember much from that time. I have lived in three places in East L.A. I started to interact more with people when I lived in Bonnie Beach and 5th street next to Snake Hill. I became more outgoing. I was the one always calling all the kids on the street to play tag or to play soccer. Mothers loved me because I was nice and polite. East L.A. is nice because everyone is your family. In this neighborhood that I grew up in, everyone knew me, and I was happy because they would always invite me to places and buy me things. They were my family outside of my house.

Money hasn’t been an issue here in East L.A. for my family. We seem to be stable, but it wasn’t always like that. My family came here with no secure job. They were all food vendors (paleteros), which is pretty typical here in East L.A. The East L.A. streets are not safe for a food vendor because there are people who will steal from you. That’s what happened to most of my uncles. What I got from that was my mom didn’t put herself at risk selling ice cream and tamales for nothing; she did it so my brother and I could have a better future. I know if I don’t do great in school, the sacrifices she made will be for nothing. I don’t plan to be a street vendor at all. I want to succeed in life and buy my mom her house. I dream big because I want to prove to those outside of East L.A. and Boyle Heights that even people like me that come from East L.A. can be successful.

People like my uncles and my mom come here to East L.A. so they won’t be outcasts because they’ll be accepted by our kind (Latinos). They also want their kids to have a good education, like what my mom wants for me. An important thing for me besides my family is my education. In order to succeed I need knowledge so I can help not only myself, but also my community. My community is an important place because teachers, students, and families have given so much to the youth. It’s only fair that with my knowledge I can give back, like making transportation better, making the food better, and making sure more kids graduate.

The food here in East L.A. is amazing, except for the school food, but I am still grateful that we even have food. There is a variety of foods I know how to cook. I can probably cook 1/3 of the main Mexican foods, but I still have a lot to learn. When I was young my mom had to go to work so little by little I would teach myself how to cook so I wouldn’t always depend on my mom leaving something for me to eat. My mom has been working a lot, and I appreciate it because if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have the necessary items to succeed. It has also made me become an independent person. East L.A. has taught me who I should make friends with, the type of people that are here, and my purpose here in East L.A.