A New Definition of Resilience: Young Latinas

There’s this girl I know. She’s 18 years old, born in Ecuador. She moved to New York a few years ago — for the same reason many of us have — looking for a better future. She’s not quite sure why she’s here, but she does understand that in her new environment, she’s going to have to figure out many things for which she doesn’t yet have answers. Back in her home country, she was almost ready to graduate from high school. Now, in NYC, her new home, she was told that she needed to repeat high school. So, she enrolled as a 9th grade student. She sits in the classroom with 13- and 14-year-old girls. She takes classes with teachers who speak in a language she does not understand. Soon she starts to believe that something is wrong with her. She doesn’t fit in her new environment. She wonders how she’s going to do well in a place where she can’t even communicate. She questions if it would be worth it to repeat school since even when she’s done and ready to put her knowledge into practice, she won’t be able to do so because she’s undocumented. However, even with all these insurmountable and exasperating difficulties, she’s expected to find the strength, confidence and “resilience” to overcome it all. She can do it! I know this girl. She’s one of the young women for which my nonprofit organization was born. I know this young woman; she was I, 20 years ago. I know this young woman; she is the many other girls whom I don’t see, but who wonder every day: Can I do it?

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