Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Letter from a Reader

Hello Sergio,

I wanted to reach out to you and share how much I relate to the personal essays in Crossing Borders. I am currently an undergrad student at the University of California, Irvine studying Spanish with an emphasis in Education. Like the majority of immigrant families in California, my family is originally from Mexico. Del Norte del paĆ­s, estado de Durango to be more specific, just like your family.

I truly admire how much involvement your parents had in your education growing up. Most importantly, I admire you for carrying those family values and raising Aaron and Isaac the way you did. Unfortunately I grew up with a single mom, who worked until late hours of the night to provide for my siblings and me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll always be grateful for the sacrifice she’s made for our family, but she had very little involvement in my educational path. And as I continue on this path, I see our relationship growing more distant. Like you and your mother, my mom and I always had a really good friendship, but being away from home has made it difficult to relate to each other’s lives.

I see myself growing apart from my mom, my comfort zone, and for what purpose? I am surrounded by Asian, Middle Eastern, and white students who walk around like they have their lives figured out. Upper-class students who pull up to the parking lot in their Audis, Mercedes, Lexus; they would never be able to relate to my family’s financial situation. They would never know what it’s like to sleep in the living room because their family of six can barely afford a two-room duplex located in what’s considered the “ghetto.” Yet here I am, reading over your personal essays and reflecting on my decision to cross this border. My decision to continue with my educational goals, even if it meant growing apart from my mom, and her contribution to my Mexican identity. So more than anything, I just wanted to say thanks. Thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone.

I truly want to make a difference in our Mexican-American/Latino community. The families in our community need to make a change and be more college-oriented. We need more families like yours. More parents like Bertha and Rodolfo because a “Mexican accent” doesn’t stop them from getting involved in their children’s education. And for the parents who do not have the time to get involved like my mom, at least get them to understand the importance of a higher education.

Anyway, I hope you get to read this really long message. Even if you don’t respond, I just want you to see the impact your personal essays had on my personal life. Thank you and I am definitely interested in reading more of your work!

Alejandro Favela


Alejandro, I've read and re-read your letter several times. I write for readers just like you, and I can only say thank-you for writing such a wonderful, heartfelt letter to this writer. Every writer who toils alone for years deserves a letter like this, which gives him encouragement to keep writing. And yes, you are not alone. I am with you, if only from afar.

I think it's a difficult journey we are making, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be making the journey. I think you should be proud of your mother (as I am of my parents) for what they could teach you, about hard work, sacrifice, friendship. She may not understand everything you are doing now, but make an effort to get back into her community, to teach her about what you know now and why it matters to you.

I know you will find others who assume their position in life, who seem so much more sophisticated than you, who will never understand the poverty you grew up with. I know I did. Take it as an advantage, the advantage of being real, the advantage of knowing good people exist in all strata of life, the advantage of not being easily consumed by things. I have met so many people who assume they are right simply because they are rich. You show them otherwise. As a teacher once told me, "You show them that a Mexicano can beat them with his mind!"

Yes, you are right that I am trying to write about the great values we have in our community, through books like Crossing Borders, and how to translate those values in other settings beyond where we grew up. That's what will move our community forward, in my opinion. I believe we should also criticize those values that are not helpful to us, and leave them behind. I want this conversation to occur in our community, so that we can be self-reflective, so that we can improve ourselves, so that we can be proud of ourselves, yet without being idealistic or romantic about our community.

Thank you for reading my work. You made my day.