There are days when I am at work and I am in thought. I look around. There is no one around who would have predicted that at my age, I would be working in a high school and living in Phoenix, Arizona. It is like I am waking up from a dream. How did this happen? There are some days when I am happy to ask this. There are some days that I am not so happy to have asked this.
I carry with me my history. Today someone said, "There she goes, the Puerto Rican Powerhouse." In New York, such a statement would not matter. Here it does. There are not a lot of us around. I consider this a compliment as there is another Puerto Rican from the Bronx that I work with. I am thankful to work with him. He reminds me of home. We have people in common. However, when they talk about me, it is clear that I am the one that they are referring to.
Is this my legacy? I sit as students around me are considering Nazi Germany in the novel, Night by Elie Wiesel. There is laughter as the teacher reads how the author describes his time in the concentration camps. I would like to yell. I would like to tell them to learn from others, learn from history. We don't know what will happen in the future. This reality may some day be our reality. I want to tell them to learn as they represent within them the possibilities of their ancestors.
This thought made me remember Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise." There is a line that states, "I am the dream and the hope of the slave." I know what she meant when she wrote that. There is every possibility that this refers to me as well. Aren't all of us slaves? I think a more apt way of thinking about this line is that our generation, and our future generation has the responsibility of contributing or taking from this world we live in. I am the dream and the hope of those who have come before me. At some point, there was an ancestor that had the hope that one of her daughters would be educated. This is me. There is someone in my lineage dreamed that a descendant would be useful. This is me. There is someone that came before me that would have hoped that a daughter would be a light in the dark places and would raise children who could be lights in dark places. I pray that this would still be me.
My hope is in God. When I finish fighting in this war, I pray that I will go home to be with God. I want to believe that my ancestors prayed when they were tempted to think of their future generations. I want to believe that they prayed for me. Psalm 37:25-26 states, "I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not see the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread. He is ever merciful and lends; and his descendants are blessed." I will pray as someone who came before me prayed for the salvation of my offspring and those who come after me. When I am tempted to be ungrateful, I think of my parents, foreigners from different lands who came or who was brought to this country for more. They are gone but I and my children remain of them and I am (present) their dream and their hope. I pray that I can make them proud.
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