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Access to an education in another country

lcastrejon's picture

To think about another person’s identity and their access to an education is not easy. I’ve thought back to my family because while growing up they would always tell me to take advantage of the opportunities I had here (the U.S.) because if we had been living in Guatemala, chances were I wouldn’t be in school right now. From what I know, no one in my family from my mother’s side has successfully completed middle school/high school while in Guatemala. My father and his side of the family is from Mexico and within that side I know that I do have some family members who have been able to continue onto higher education in Mexico. However, for this post I will be focusing more on my mother and her educational experience based off of her identities.


The first time my mother made a reference to her educational experience was when I was in elementary school. I remember I was learning how to multiply and divide and needed help solving a problem. Like any other kid, I naturally went to my mother for help. My mother took one quick look at the worksheet I was working on and told me she didn’t know what to do and that I should ask for help in school. At the time, I was so confused. How could she not know? I thought my mother knew everything. But as I got older I realized that there was a lot more she didn’t know.


My mother stopped going to school after the sixth grade and though she didn’t like going to school (I mean not everyone does), that was not the reason why she dropped out. She was the oldest out of 6 and due to financial reasons, she was given no choice but to drop her studies in order to help pay the bills and provide food on the table for the rest of her siblings. Unlike the U.S., Guatemala does not provide a free education, her family had to pay for her and her siblings to go to school every single year and that does not include the uniform and books each of them had to pay for in addition to the school tuition. My grandparents simply could not afford to keep my mother, aunts and uncles in school that as time passed by, they each stopped attending one by one.


As I got older, I eventually stopped asking her for help with my academics. Now looking back at what she has shared with me about her experience, I can’t imagine how she may have felt that one night I had asked her for help and she wasn’t able to help me. Although my mother may have had a limited education due to her socioeconomic status, she is well aware of the importance towards having an education. I am grateful that mother had always been honest with me when sharing her educational experience, she made me realize how lucky I was to be in the U.S. and receive an education for free. My mother has never stopped working hard to help take care of our family and though she may not be “well educated”, she has proved that she doesn’t need to be educated in order to know how far it can take you in life. My mother is my inspiration and my motivation to provide her a life she believes she will never have.


bicostudent2016's picture

I really like this. Thank you so much for sharing. My own mother had to drop out at 14 so she can start working and being raised by just her, I too agree that my mother "doesn't need to be educated in order to know how far it can take you in life". 

jccohen's picture


I'm struck by your appreciation of the complexities of your mother's story and of all that she brings you in relation to education.  Given her evident knowledge of the importance of education, it seems likely that she communicated this to you as you were growing up and that this had a significant impact on your access to education.  What do you remember about how your mom influenced you with regard to education as you were growing up?

Your post also raises some more socio-political questions about whether and how education is made accessible to people in various parts of the world, and how this plays into the unequal distribution of power.   In Guatemala in particular, I wonder about which people have access to education, and how this relates to the distribution of power in the government and the position of these people in the global economy. Is access to education connected with why your family came to the U.S.?  And of course this all relates interestingly with your own access to education in this country, as in your last post...