My whole life, that I remember, was spent surrounded by the Mennonite community. Except now, I am one of four Mennonites doing service this year. When I first applied for a year of service, I applied through DOOR which directed me to the YAV program. For those who don’t know, YAV is a Presbyterian program for young adults. This is where a bit of my culture shock came from. I literally didn’t understand anything! I didn’t even know what “passing of the peace” was. In the beginning of this week I thought that’s where all my uncomfortableness was coming from. Boy was I wrong!
My uncomfortableness came from being a person of color, in a program with a majority of white people. It’s really hard to put into words exactly what happened this week. I’ve felt more moments of conviction than ever before and I’m still trying to process some of that. My mom is an immigrant from Mexico. All five of us, my siblings and I, were born here in the states. Growing up I never viewed myself as colored. My friends always justified me by saying things like “oh, but not you. You’re different. You’re not ‘that kind of Mexican'” and I would just accept it. Trying to live in community of white people sometimes, at least for me, meant to let go of where I came from; regardless if I was from Mexico or not. I felt convicted this week because I ignored my moms roots. I ignored issues that involved immigration. I didn’t make them my problem. But even worse, I never met my mom, Maria T. Rosas, from Mexico. Sure, I know her, she’s my mom. But I never took the time to get to really dig deep to know who she really was, and her struggles to get here a nineteen year old.
We watched a video this week and in the video a man said “Yo quiero decirle a los Americanos que, que no somos unos perros” “I want to tell the Americans that, that we are not dogs.” For some, that man is their neighbor, a person they see at the store, a friend. But for me, that’s my mom. That’s my people struggling. No one will truly understand where this conviction, this uncomfortableness is coming from because this is my story. As stressful, and mentally exhausting this week has been, their goal was to make us okay with not being okay….and it worked.
Thank you all for the love and support. But most importantly thank you for the prayers & encouraging words.