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Each year, 826LA partners with one Los Angeles public school for the Young Authors’ Book Project (YABP). Volunteers work with students for seven weeks to write pieces around a central theme. In collaboration with students from Alain LeRoy Locke High School, the 2017 YABP publication, When the Moon Is Up, contains stories from young people in South LA, inspired by the 25th anniversary of the 1992 LA Uprisings. The book’s 61 student authors depict the modern lives of youth in stories about responsibility, family, loss, courage, and favorite pairs of sneakers.
Noe’s “Home at Last”
What makes Los Angeles such a hot spot for travelers? Could it be the celebrities? The sights? Maybe just fun under the sun? Despite the problems Los Angeles has had, it is still one of the most visited and successful cities in the country, which is why my family chose to come here in search of a better life.
“When we had to leave our home in México to move to the City of Angels, it only felt like a small shift. With so many familiar faces around us, it was like we never left our home.”
Los Angeles offered many things my family and I were looking for. One thing that stood out was how incredibly diverse this city was. When we had to leave our home in México to move to the City of Angels, it only felt like a small shift. With so many familiar faces around us, it was like we never left our home. This was a city with a huge number of accents, but one of the most common was Spanish with recognizable slang like “órale” and “quiúbole.” Spanish was the only language I grew up talking until this point in my life.
The smell of foods in the air was just like at home—spices that burned down my throat from every breath, which surprisingly I grew up hating, and all of a sudden it’s my favorite odor. Some of the streets were pretty similar to the ones I was so accustomed to. The smell of pan dulce from the bakery every morning made waking up an easier task. The food most of the time tasted similar to back home, but at times it even surpassed my expectations. The difference that stood out the most was all the technology that was used. My first encounter with this problem was when we first went to a laundromat where the machines clean the clothes instead of elbow grease.
“From its people to its buildings, my cultures and others’ backgrounds can always be spotted here in Los Angeles.”
I was born in a small pueblo in Zacatecas, México, but raised in Los Angeles. Growing up in this city has been a privilege to me. I was never robbed of my culture, despite being hundreds of miles away from a place I once called home. It’s hard to lose one’s culture in a city like this because there’s so much diversity. I was able to enjoy the exact same things as my older brothers and sisters did when they were my age, simply because my family was able to keep many traditions alive, giving people like me a chance to understand and explore how things were in our past. From its people to its buildings, my cultures and others’ backgrounds can always be spotted here in Los Angeles.
“As immigrants, they felt like they didn’t have any rights.”
The main reason we had to leave our home was because we didn’t have the good currency, and we were living in poverty. Our house was like an old factory, where we had a little kitchen, and only one room that had to be shared by my brothers and sisters (which are a total of ten). We had to watch every step we made or else we faced the danger of stepping on scorpions that always found their way inside. Or we would wake up every night from a torn bed having to exit the house just to use the restroom located in the backyard.
With LA’s huge population comes a huge economy. With so many different jobs in this area, it doesn’t matter what race or gender you are—this was a no-brainer for my family to decide what city to choose. As soon as we got here, my sisters and brothers were immediately offered a job. It was to work in a factory where they added designs to shirts and got them ready for shipping to stores.
“I am determined to be the first in the family to receive a degree in electrical engineering. My mind is set, and I’m going to give my family the life they deserve.”
It wasn’t the best job; I constantly saw them tired. When they came home they looked down and it was almost as if they had to drag their feet across the front yard, but they always managed to smile and make everyone feel like everything was alright. As immigrants, they felt like they didn’t have any rights. So they stuck with the low-paying jobs and made my younger sisters and me go to school and get a proper education so that we could get out of these neighborhoods.
It took me a while to understand why education was important to my family when most didn’t make it past high school. Little did I know that the people who find the most value in education are the ones who never had the chance to get one. Now my view has changed on education and I am determined to be the first in the family to receive a degree in electrical engineering. My mind is set, and I’m going to give my family the life they deserve.
About the Author
Noe is like any other teenager trying to find his way through high school into the real world. Being an immigrant has never stopped him, but motivated him to succeed in life. The best part of growing up in this country is enjoying both cultures in a city where both are welcomed with open hands.