Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Spare Parts movie...that was me!


Spare Parts is a movie by George Lopez I watched this weekend. Watching it was surreal because that was kinda of me more than 20 years ago.  A 12 year old girl who recently arrived to America, who carried her English-Spanish dictionary everywhere since she could barely speak English, who was undocumented, and who knew education was the only chance she had to achieve the American dream---and I did.


Now I can look back and see how blessed I was and just like the movie it is important to share my story. My parents brought my sibblings  and I to Maryland because we had family here; they had no idea at the time they had chosen to bring their kids to one of the best public school systems in the country.  I did not realize that either until I was able to get into the Honors and Advanced Placement classes.  How does an ESL student get there?  According to my middle school counselor who let me take that first regular math class, by being very anoying.  She was sick of me begging her everyday to give me a chance to take another math class because I was bored.  My convincing argument was that one does not need English to do math; besides I had my Eng/Span dictionary  with me at all times.  She thought I would ask her to switch me to my old ESL class after the first exam; instead I got an A+ and was tutoring my English-speaking peers while I was still learning English in my other ESL classes.  Since I had good grades to back me up I did not have to campaign long to convince her that after 6-months of ESL courses I knew enough English---at that point, ESL was designed to provide English proficiency in a couple of years.  That is how I got my foot in the door.

In high school, I convinced my counselor to allow me to skip regular level courses and to assign me to honors classes.  I did not realize then how crazy my request was; the only thing I knew was that I wanted to take the same classes my friends from math class were taking.  Yes, I was the only kid with an accent in those classes and for sure the only one that always had an Eng/Span dictionary by her side.  That is how I eventually got to Mr. Torsch's honor science class.  He was an amazing teacher; he was my cheerleader for many years--also he never made fun of my accent.  In my case, the science competition was called The Final Frontiers and I was building 8 feet tall towers out of popsicle  sticks and 30 grams toothpick bridges that would support bricks.  We were undefeated champions for many years.

Those science competitions opened many doors for me. During high school I was always busy attending summer programs at various universities across the US at no cost since I always got the full scholarship and my parents were not able to afford it.  Now that I think about it, I did not really consider how risky it was to travel by plane  or be included in newspaper articles since I was undocumented.  In my head I figured that the chance that la migra stopped at a science program to pick up one kid was very remote.

I don't think I was the smartest kid in high school but I was very driven.  I graduated at the top of my class-7th to be exact-with a 4.5 GPA, with 15 college credits, with acceptance letters even to Ivy League universities and a full state scholarship.  It was amazing, these were the fruit of labor of many people that supported me in the journey like my family and teachers.

I got what I worked so hard for, the only problem was that in 1996 the Dream Act was only a dream.  Reality had finally caught up with me and I was still an undocumented kid who could not accept the scholarships she needed to pay for college.  It was a tragic situation.  On top of it all, la migra caught my mom while working in a bakery--she, maybe all of us, were going to be deported.  My world crumbled to pieces.  Then enter divine intervention into this crazy equation and la migra ended up bringing our pink cards instead.  On the last day before the deadline,  I turned in my acceptance letter to University of Maryland with a full scholarship.  I graduated after 5 years with 200 credits and with 3 degrees.  I was going to say that it is not my intention to brag; but it is,  this little kid who carried her dictionary for so many years was able to reach her American dream.  She graduated, became a citizen, works for the government and still has an accent.

Keep dreaming and working hard,

Pisa


Monday, June 1, 2015

Unique gifts for you....and to share!

This is my business motto but of late I have realized it has become the motto for my life as well.  Humility aside I have many gifts---we all do.  There are things we learned in school, things we learned at work and so many things we have just learned along the way.  How to start a business is a great skill to have.  It has taken me many years to learn the basics; many years to just loose the fear and anxiety that comes with the process.

This weekend was interesting to say the least.  Launching my online store has been in my To Do list for a while; taking photos of your inventory and uploading them to the online store is an intricate and long process.  This weekend, my 10 year old baby niece launched her Etsy jewerly store.  Yes, I know  what you are thinking. She is 10 so she is not a baby.  I changed her diapers so like I told her, I earned the right to call her "my baby" for as long as I want to--so probably forever.  Indeed, my sister in law is teaching my niece an interesting set of skills this summer; you can read all about it here. I think it is never too early to learn those skills, especially because when you learned them early you approach the task at hand differently.  If you ask her about the experience of starting a business she will probably say that it is fun and cool.  On the other hand, just in the last 2 paragraphs I have mentioned the words fear, anxiety, long, and intricate.  Granted, she has a limited number of products and I have hundreds.  Nevertheless, she got me out of my creativity block and provided the inspiration I needed.  I don't think my niece has realized yet but one of her gifts is that she is a cheerleader of life.

So, my niece is off to play and enjoy the nice weather and I am walking around the house with my ipad trying to find the best lighthing spot to take photos of my products.  After many, many photos, a spot by the dinning room window made me happy.  So, it began, until I get a message from my cousin a hemisphere away-I was born in Ecuador-informing me she has started a home business and she has designated me as her marketing director.  The day continued and I, the one that had a creativity block in the morning, now have 2 businesses to work on.

So all those unique gifts you have, enjoy them and also share them--so your reward is doubled.

Pisa