For my family, America meant opportunity. It meant getting an education and having a better life. In the early 1990s, my mother came to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 18. She originally came to visit her brothers (my uncles) here in Seattle, go to high school here, gain some extra education, and pick up the English language a little better. She had no intention of staying. Then after having me, she realized the life Americans have is quite lucky versus life in places like Mexico. She decided to stay and raise her children (at the time, just me) in America. Americans sometimes don’t realize the fortune they have. Growing up knowing you have clean water, electricity, food, and so many more luxuries are kind of a given here. Knowing that once my mother arrived in America not having her own home, own source of income, or really anything and having to start a life at age 18 is mind blowing. As an American born in the U.S., I don’t know what I would do if my mom said, “Okay, you’re 18, you’re going to a new country.” I would freak out. My mom has had quite the roller coaster ride, but I know it was all for her kids. She has implanted how lucky and fortunate we are here in America in me and my siblings. It’s an appreciation for having access to food, clean water, and an education. Americans are provided with so many opportunities to make them successful, and I know, because of my mother’s sacrifices, I want to do nothing but make her proud. I want for my mother’s American story to not only provide me the strength to be an American but to be passed down and show the world how promising the life of an American is.

If it weren’t for my mother staying here in the U.S., I would never be where I am today. Her choice enabled me to have the opportunities that could provide me with a successful future. An example of how being an American has helped me is the opportunity to go to a public school, where I was given the chance to dance. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s DanceChance program provides scholarship training to third-grade students with the physical aptitude and focus required to pursue a career in dance. Selected students participate in a nine-week introductory fall session. Students are then invited to continue on to the subsequent spring session and the fourth-grade class based on their progress, potential, and interest. Upon graduation from the two-year program, some students are invited to integrate into PNBS Level III classes. If it weren’t for the DanceChance program, I would not have the career I have today. The program has given opportunities to many minority children like me, providing us with the knowledge of the beautiful art form we call ballet. And I thank America for the opportunities it has given to people like me.