I’m first-generation Mexican American. My dad came to the United States from Mazatlan, Mexico when he was super young (13 years old!). He came alone and figured out how to navigate this new land. My mom followed years later after a chance meeting with my dad in Mexico. She left her land of Sonora, Mexico and moved to Orange County to marry my dad. I was the first child born in this beautiful land and just writing this brings tears to my eyes. I know the gift that has been bestowed upon me simply by being born in the United States. However, I am Chicana and so my parents didn’t always understand the customs here and assimilating was always a bit of trouble. And there’s the whole family dynamic too. So when I saw the trailer for “El Jeremias” (out in theaters on October 21, 2016) I related in such a way that I felt as though bits and pieces of my life had spilled out onto the big screen.
I am the middle child and the only girl. That alone should have been reason to mark me as the black sheep of the family. It became even more apparent when I started school. I knew from my first week of Kindergarten that things were going to be different for me. I walked into kindergarten class at five years old and fluent in Spanish. Only Spanish. I made friends with a girl named Daisy who spoke English. Soon enough, I was on my way to becoming bilingual and very quickly I learned to read – in English! School was so different back then. Reading wasn’t taught until first grade, so when I read “Frog and Toad are Friends” in Kinder it was a pretty big deal. For my parents? It meant that now I could not only translate what was said, but also what was written.
It wasn’t until second grade that I learned that I would have to do my best with the hands I had been dealt. One afternoon I was taken into an office at school and I was given a test. They would do things like show me an object made up of different shapes, remove the sample and then I would have to recreate. This went on for a bit and then soon after my mom was called into the office. The lady that tested me told my mom that I had been identified GATE. She gave my mom a very official looking letter and a list of schools that had a GATE program. And that was that. Literally. My mom informed the lady that I would not be transferring because I wouldn’t have transportation to the school (we lived across the street from my then-current school). We were a one car family and it didn’t matter how much I told my mom that being accepted into a GATE program was a pretty big deal. I wasn’t going anywhere.
The rest of my schooling was similar to my early years. Honors and AP courses were glazed over. College funds were nonexistent and that time I made it to the county science fair competition? My parents fought over who had to take me. Extra curricular activities didn’t exist. Yup. They talked about college, but I don’t know that they really expected me to go. Or if they did, they figured I was on my own.
Thankfully, I watched a lot of Beverly Hills 90210 and Saved by the Bell so by the time I graduated high school I had a pretty good idea of what I should be doing as I continued my studies.
Looking back, I can see that it all worked out and now I have stories to tell! Which is pretty much what I think Jeremías is going to go through in the upcoming El Jeremías film. I can’t wait to take the kids to watch the film and remind them that it doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s about where you want to go. Then of course, there’s family. Being the “black sheep” of the family is okay. Your family will love you for who you are. Even if they don’t understand your trajectory, they’ll understand what could come of it.
I encourage you to follow El Jeremías on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ElJeremiasMovie) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/eljeremiasmovie). And make sure to watch it in theaters on October 21, 2016.
About El Jeremías
El Jeremías is a heartwarming film and comedy about family love and the hard choices that come with opportunity. Set in Sonora Mexico, the film tells the story of Jeremías (Martin Castro) an eight-year-old who finds out he is a gifted child and initiates a journey of self-discovery. When an opportunistic physiologist makes contact with Jeremías, a new world of experiences open up to him but at the expense of being away from the family he loves. Jeremías must choose between this exciting but lonely new world he finds himself in or returning home to his loving family.