Two Cultures Collide


Many people struggle to move to different towns or even states, but when one´s new home is in another country, the transition tends to be much more difficult. Spanish Teacher, Ivonne Want, moved to America from Mexico when she was 15 years old and has been living in Texas ever since. Despite the decision to immigrate over 20 years ago, the move has continued to affect Want in various ways.

Want´s family wanted to move to America in order to build a better life. While her father was born in Mexico, her mother was American and was able to file for her family. However, Want explains why a bad experience delayed her family’s immigration.

¨My mom had tried to bring us up here (America) to request papers, but that´s when the attempted kidnapping happened when I was three. We were at the border trying to get papers and someone tried to take me out. I remember seeing my mom´s face when he took me and she was just paralyzed with fear. I was in his car and two or three blocks later there was a police car driving by. I think he thought that my mom had finally reacted and called the police, so he dropped me and I just started running. During that time, children were getting kidnapped a lot and there were rumors that they would sell them to couples who couldn´t have children. After that, my mom was like ¨nope, we´re not doing this, we´re going back to where it´s safe,¨ explained Want.

The situation prevented Want´s family from moving to America until they took the chance again 12 years later. When Want first found out she would be leaving Mexico, she was understandably upset. Having to leave everything that she had ever known was a big struggle for her as Nova Rosita, her hometown, was all she had ever known.

¨As a teenager, you know, I thought it was the worst thing ever because I was leaving my friends behind, my cousins, and my family. I thought it was a tragedy and I was never gonna see them again. I remember crying most of the way up. Deep down I always knew that it was the best thing for us and that my parents were doing it just to give us a better chance, a better opportunity. But I don´t know that I was 100% thrilled with it. If I had been given the choice, I think I would´ve stayed in Mexico. I remember saying that as soon I graduate high school, I’m going back to Mexico,¨ said Want.

In the beginning, trying to fit in with the crowd was challenging. Want attended school with a majority of Hispanic kids, so that made things easier, but she still felt out of place. Having to balance her culture with American culture proved to be a struggle, especially when she was constantly hearing two different viewpoints, whether it was at school or at home.

¨I think the hardest part for me was that I would go to school and experience the American culture, as you call it. My mom would say ´I don´t care if we live in another country or not. This is our culture. These are our beliefs. This is what we do. But it wasn´t what I would see at school, so I always felt kind of divided in a way. I thought, ´Wait a minute, I need to adapt to this, if we´re going to live in this country. I need to do things this way because this is the way things are done here. But then, at the same time, I was supposed to stay true to my roots. So that was always a little tough to navigate through,¨ explained Want.

Even when she had finally settled in, there were still some characteristics of America that she wasn´t quite used to. Whether it was trying to get used to speaking English, or the way school was formatted. Her mother originally being a US citizen had taken away the shock value for America overall, but some aspects were new.

¨Patriotism was very big in Mexico. Every Monday and Friday we did a ceremony for the flag. If you were in elementary, the top six students got to carry the flag and everyone else would line up. We would do the Pledge of Allegiance, sing the national anthem, and then go to class. And that´s from Pre-K up so the love of the country is instilled in you, and I didn´t feel the same when I came here,¨ stated Want.

Years later, Want has grown up and has fully become accustomed to America. However, Mexico will always hold a special place in her heart. Both places have helped shape who she is today as well as being an immigrant.

¨I think being an immigrant has helped me be more understanding of differences in people and trying to understand where they are coming from. We all have differences and I think it only enhances each other. Having two cultures has helped me with that. I love this country (America). It has given me a lot, but every time I go back to Mexico I feel at home,¨ said Want.