Education and Expectations

In Joselina’s family, education was not something that was actively encouraged. From what she saw, this was a common sentiment among the families in her country. When she graduated high school, her parents did not attend the ceremony- they gave her money and gifts; the Hijar family did not view graduation as a milestone. After graduating high school, Joselina began “five different careers” because it was easy to shift from one degree to another.Her father had connections with people working at universities and other institutions. So, despite their different views of education, when Joselina became bored of one career, her father could help her start another one. After starting a few different degrees, Joselina found the career that she is truly passionate about: physical education. She started working as a life guard, then swim-lesson-plansplayed on her country’s National Water polo team for six years.  After some time, she found the job that she loved: being swimming instructor. She started teaching children, and she loved it. After that, she began working with babies and during this time she would her nephew to her classes and would use him as a model to teach the class. She later began teaching adults and people with special needs. She continues to swim, and the skills she gained from her experiences have shaped who she is today.

Her life was all planned out. Her father bought her a house near the family home, and Joselina would build a swimming pool in the back where she would start her own swimming academy. Everything was set: she had the name for the academy, the people she wanted to hire, and interest from customers. Joselina’s plans changed when she decided to travel to the United States, but her father still keeps the house in hopes that she will move back to her home country.

                                           Expectations of the U.S.

 “I didn’t know anything about being illegal in the states and I didn’t know about racism. I didn’t know anything about stereotyping. I didn’t know any of those things.”

Like many migrants, Joselina had a very idealistic view of the U.S. She imagined blond people with blue eyes, who did not speak Spanish and were very wealthy. She was unaware of the undocumented migrant experience. Like many migrants, she thought that migrants could come to this country for a month, make lots of money and return to their home and live a good life. Joselina’s comfortable life in her home country sheltered her, in a way, from knowing the realities of discrimination and stereotyping in the U.S. The media’s portrayal of the U.S. was yet another factor that influenced Joselina’s belief that coming to the United States and living as an immigrant would be relatively easy. These expectations were were shattered when she arrived in the U.S. She says:

“Because if I knew, why would I go to a place where they are going to treat you like nothing?”