Staying for my son

Lina Marulanda
Lina Marulanda
Photo By: Dymanh Chhoun
What I miss most is my family. And the weather in my city is the best. It’s the city of eternal spring.

I can tell that this country has better opportunities for my son. Better resources for education and different things. So I think now I’m sacrificing for him. And I am happy with that.

I came here 11 years ago because I wanted to learn English. I had a tourist visa. I like that this place had variety. I like the seasons. I like the communities that I can learn from here, from different parts of the world. We don’t see people from other countries that often in Colombia.

The drug dealers and the guerillas have been around for a long time in Colombia, and everybody gets used to living with that. I just knew that I need to stay in safe places and I need to know the people very well and know my friends. The economy was bad at the time, so maybe that’s a good time for people to immigrate to other places. But it wasn’t my case at that time.

My family is a middle class family. Both of my parents were working the whole time. They have very stable jobs and I went to private schools. I got a lot of things when I was growing up. So it wasn’t like I was in a bad situation.

I had a stable job in a bank. I was going to the university. I think I got lucky getting the tourist visa ‘cause I had friends that wanted to move here. I wasn’t interested at all. I was kind of afraid to be away from my family.

Visiting, then deciding to stay

My friends came first. I just waited and said, ‘I don’t know. I can’t decide if I want to go or not. Maybe I just want to spend a few months and then go back.’ I was afraid to go by myself. But I did want to have the opportunity to learn English because I was taking classes in my country. It was a hard language to learn. I thought it was a good chance to improve it. So I came here and I stayed with my friends. I started to go to the free schools for immigrants and I really liked it. I learned a lot.

Every time I called my mom she was like ‘You should stay. The situation here is getting worse. You know, the economy is not doing so well. So maybe you gonna have more chances there and you could have a very bright future.’

I was pushed more by my mom to stay here. That wasn’t the plan that I had at the beginning. I met an American and we got married and had a son. We’re divorced now, but we have a good relationship.

What I miss most is my family. And the weather in my city is the best. It’s the city of eternal spring. We can be outdoors almost all year long. The colors are different. The sky looks different. We have a lot of mountains in the city. The dirt looks different. The food tastes different. So I miss all of that. I miss the celebrations, the festivals, the smells – everything that comes with that environment.

Born: Medellin, Colombia, 1974
Residence: Minneapolis
Moved to Minnesota: 2000
Current job: Associate educator at Andersen Community School in Minneapolis
What do you miss about home? My family and the weather. It’s like eternal spring there.
Advice to someone moving to Minnesota: I think it’s very helpful to learn the language and try to get to know people from the culture you are living in without leaving your own traditions and culture.


Staying for her son

I can tell that this country has better opportunities for my son. Better resources for education and different things. So I think now I’m sacrificing for him. And I am happy with that. Any parent will do for their children. My parents did it for me.

It’s worth it to stay and do the best for him. When he grows up he will make a decision and I will respect whatever he decides to do — if he wants to stay or he wants to try and live in Colombia.

He’s getting a little bit of the experience living there because he comes with me every year and spends a couple or three weeks there with his family. And he’s fluent in Spanish. He’s bilingual and he’s starting to understand his other culture so hopefully he’s proud of that in the future and maybe he’ll want to try living there.

I’m really glad I’ve had the opportunity to learn the language, to work with Latino community and use my bilingual skills. Also, I had the big opportunity to go to college for two years. That was a huge change in my life. I started to see the world differently. So it was a life experience that is going to help me to have a better life and to make better decisions and to teach my son about life. I’m very thankful that I could take advantage of that.

I work in a school where they have a high population of Latinos. I work with kids that are below in their academic skills in math or literacy. I feel very happy to work with my own community, helping kids improve their skills. At the same time, I have the opportunity to use my second language with kids and with other teachers.

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