I'm 17 year old Indira Gutierrez writing from chandler, Arizona. I was born in El Salvador and moved to America when I was five. I would not be here if it were not for the two most important people in my life, my mother who survived the civil war conflict in her native country, El Salvador and still managed to graduate from college as a social worker, and my father who like me, is Costa Rican and works as a computer technician, for Insite Direct. When I was 5 my parents decided it would be best for the future of our family, to come to America. In America we would not experience the same poverty, illegal drug problems, petty crime and lack of opportunity, as in Costa Rica.
We first arrived at Salt Lake City, Utah, where we lived for 12 years. While in Utah I tutored kids at Nibley Park Elementary and became a member, and L.I.T. (Leader in Training) of the local Boys and Girls club. I also attended the Academy for Math Engineering and Science, also known as, AMES Academy; a charter school where I participated in the yearbook club and the bicycle club. I also organized the school’s first annual multi-cultural fair. My sophomore year, I created the school’s first volunteer club, AMES Volunteers. As president of AMES Volunteers I recruited and organized volunteers for various events which I also scheduled. Throughout the course of my sophomore year I scheduled volunteer events with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Boys and Girls Club of America, the Girl Scouts, the Utah Aids Foundation, and the Utah Children’s Center. Simultaneously, I was a part of my charter schools’, host schools’ public forum debate team. I won a blue ribbon for “excellent speaker” at my first novice public forum tournament. I also joined our school’s first ever science fair, where I won honorable mention and when on to the regional, Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair, where also received honorable mentions as well as the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) science award, Jane Goodall's: Roots and Shoots Environmental award, and later in the year at the Ames Academy awards banquet I also won the Science Advancement Program award, for this science fair event.
Outside of school my mother who worked at a social worker and promoter for Holy Cross Ministries, had made a close circle of friends of about four families. With these four other families we would take road trips, when we had more time (during the summer, winter holidays, or spring break) or week end trips, when we had less time. Together we traveled to Moab, Utah, and scaled delicate arch, Mt. Timpanogus, Mammoth Lake in California, Yosemite National Park also in California, Yellowstone National Park in Montana for the fourth of July, and numerous trips to Old Mormon temples, historical sites, Cascade Falls in Midway near Heber, Bear Lake, Yuba Bay, and Mirror Lake. Everywhere we went we laughed, took tons of pictures, BBQ-ed and had fun. We were a rather large group of thirty people or more at most, and a medium group of about 7 at least. We all had common interest and parallel lives. All of the catholic faith, all particularly devoted to it, all working for the same church at some point or another, (Even my dad who had been a administrative assistant there, helping out with book keeping, and scheduling, among other things.) All the adults had at least two children, but no more than 4, all the children were of teenage age or less, the adults were also in their forties or late thirties, all had at least some college education, if not more, upper-middle class homeowners, two cars in the garage, and all were Hispanic, and Spanish speaking. The women gossiped about each other, cooked together, shopped together etc. While the men, took pictures, BBQ-ed, talked about soccer, and work. The children, never really cozy, treated each other with a sort of icy respect reserved for strangers, only rarely, really breaking the ice to laugh and play together. Only one particular girl, which I will call K, was particularly fun to be around, she was more outgoing than the rest, more talkative, and very, very crazy. Constantly making obscene jokes, and stupid remarks just to make you laugh. If you didn’t laugh she would target you and drill you till she broke you and made you smile. Life was like this, a blur or school, crushes, road trips, BBQ’s and a longing throughout the entire experience for others to recognized what we had “achieved.” The American dream: a cozy life, with lots of friends, and academic achievement. When before we never wanted relative and friends to come over and stay at our home for a few months, we were now wondering why they didn’t come more often, “Come see our new house!” We would encourage, “It’s only four years old, and two stories!” Perhaps it was our enthusiasm and obvious boastful tone, which drew them away. Yet it is just at this time, when you have it all that you forget how much it truly means to you. My dad began to reconsider his place in Utah, his place in life, his career, a little too late if you ask me.
So when a new employment opportunity appeared in Arizona, my father jumped at the chance, without so much as a glance over his shoulder at what he was leaving behind, what the whole family would leave behind. For me it was my friends, reputation, and achievements. For my mother it was her friends, her job, and her achievements and reputation. For my sister it was the promise of a better future at the prestigious academy I was currently attending, and her friends. Yet my dad, usually a rational man, acted rash, and did not seem to think twice or care. I call it a mid-life crisis, he called it an opportunity, to which I retorted silently an opportunity to ruin everything we have.
Two years and some months later I know I’m as right as I was that day I thought this. I was right and I’ve been right. When people find out my dad is a 44 year old man living in an apartment, working two jobs, one at a check cashing place; his wife studying to become a hairdresser, they wonder what my parents have been doing all their life. What they don’t understand is, that they’ve been building a temple all their lives only to destroy it in two years.
Once in AZ I became a Mesquite High School, Wildcat, where I once again, joined the speech and debate team in the public forum division, As well as the “Up and Coming Voters Club.” (UCVC) By the end of my junior year we had successfully raising nearly $3,000, all from student and local business donations, to build a section of a high school for kids in Uganda, Africa; this was done in association with Invisible Children Inc. a non profit organization. Currently, my curriculum is mainly made up of honors classes.
I’ve also been diagnosed with Valley Fever, since coming to Arizona, I still feel energetic and continue to volunteer. This summer I volunteer in Home Based Youth’s “Rise and Dine” program, The American Cancer Society, the Annual Scottsdale Arts Festival, and made a scrapbook, and birthday cards for the non-profit organization known as “Save the Family.”
I recently dropped debate. I used to look forward to graduating from Mesquite High School this coming May, but now my parents are talking about moving back to Utah, and suddenly my future is unknown once again. Now the only thing I’m really looking forward to is going on to community college in the fall. From now till then, life remains a blur.