A Brown Girl Who Does Not Belong Here or There

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by Tania Reyes

It’s hard to find your identity when you feel like if you don’t belong anywhere. You know where you are from, but yet that place does not feel like home. Where people, your own people look at you, differently. Just because you may not speak or act the same way that they do.

I came to this country when I was 13 years old. My family and I migrated from El Salvador to California. My parents decided to bring me and my brothers so that we could have a better future. They knew that if we stayed in El Salvador, we were never going to have the same opportunities that we would have here in California. It was a tough decision they made.

But, I am now glad they took that decision for us. Coming here was a total change for all us, first of all we didn’t speak the language. With time we started getting used to our new life-style, but always missing the people we left back home. I started going to school a few months after I had learned the language, and was able to help my parents translate whenever we would go out. It was a little weird at the beginning, because we always had to look for someone who spoke Spanish.

I was a little shy and still not able to pronounce some words correctly. After a few years later we went back to El Salvador to visit some of our family members who are still over there. I was excited that after so many years I was going to be able to see my family again. It was not what I expected Everything had changed so much, everything and everyone looked different. I remember every time I would speak my cousins would laugh and tell me to say it one more time because they like the way I would say things. I didn’t understand what they meant by that, I thought I was speaking just like them, but they didn’t see it that way.

I didn’t like sleeping over there, everything was so different. There was so much noise, and there were bugs everywhere. When we finally came back, I realized that things had changed. I was waiting so long for the day I could go back just to find out that the place that once was home did not feel like it anymore. That’s when I thought, I am not from here, but also I am not from over there so where do I belong?

The El Popo Newspaper was first published in 1970 by students concerned about the lack of a Chicana and Chicano perspective in newspapers. As a result, students called the newspaper, El Popo. The paper was named El Popo after the volcano El Popocatepetl. Involved in Chicana/o Movement of the 60’s and 70’s, students saw a connection between the smoke spewing volcano ready to erupt and the student movement ready to engage. Thus, throughout the El Popo’s forty-six years, the name continues to symbolize and to represent the spirit of each generation of students that contribute to the pages of the El Popo Newspaper. Faculty Advisor/Publisher George Sanchez, MA Carlos R. Guerrero, Ph.D., 1992-2021