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The first five stories were written by Marianne Ruggiero ~

Here is the story of my son-in-law Mario Otoniel (Oto) Urizar. He is from the village of Chujuyub, El Quiché, Guatemala, and arrived on 27 marzo 2007. I share his story in the way that he wrote it down:

¿Cómo llegaste a este país?
De Guatemala a México en autobús. Vine por México en autobús y teníamos que caminar cuando habían estación de policía. Luego llegamos a la frontera con U.S.A. cruzando por Matamoros Reynoso .Estuvimos tres días encerrados a diario veíamos que llegaban mas personas, hasta q llegamos a completarnos 45 personas, al tercer día por la noche cruzamos el rio bravo. Teníamos como diez minutos de camino nos corrió inmigración por suerte no nos agarraron a todos. Llegamos a Houston y luego tuvimos que caminar en el desierto por tres noches y tres días, y luego de tres días de desierto nos tomamos otros tres días en minivan para llegar a Rhode Island.

¿Te costó adaptarte a tu nueva vida? ¿Por qué?
Si me costo por el idioma y las leyes de este país q no las conocía. Me hace falta la comida y mi familia.

¿Porqué has venido?
Vine porque en mi país no contamos con mucho empleo.

¿Qué pensaste cuando viste la nieve por primera vez?
Cuando vi nieve la primera vez no podia creer que esto era real.
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This is Carolina Bonilla, she is from Medellín, Colombia and came here in December of 1999.

Why did you leave your country? What did you regret leaving?
I left Colombia because we were only supposed to come and visit the U.S. But once we were here we couldn't afford the airfare back and we overstayed our visa. I regretted leaving my life there. I was just a little girl.

Describe your most vivid memory about arriving for the first time in the U.S.
When I was on the plane they fed me mashed potatoes, I had no idea what they were. Once getting off the plane and not being able to understand anyone was very scary. It sure wasn't home and I felt like it would never be “home.”

Did you find it hard to adjust to life in the U.S.? What did you like most about your new life here? What did you miss?
It was very hard to adjust. We had absolutely nothing. Looking for a place, knocking from door to door. Once I got older it was a little easier, but not really. I was awarded very good scholarships and couldn't use them due to my legal status. My resentment grew because they told me I was a great student, but all my hard work was for nothing. I really only enjoyed life when did dance. It was my only outlet.

Describe your first experience seeing snow.
I loved it. I was a small child and it was fun playing in it and being able to go sledding. It was as if I were in a movie!
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This is Cindy Sánchez, who arrived from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in 1998 (she was 10). She lived for a time in NYC, then moved to Providence.

Why did you leave your country? What do you most regret leaving?
I left Honduras to meet with my mother once again. We had been apart for 4 years, since I was 6. Leaving Honduras was bittersweet since I was leaving other family members behind. But I was going to be with the most important person in my life.

Describe your most vivid memory when you first arrived in the U.S.
My uncle was the first person I saw when I arrived in the airport. I hadn't seen him either in 4 years and when I saw this big man with a mustache first I felt confused. I had the feeling you get when you go from darkness into a bright room. It took me a few seconds to figure out that this was my uncle. He hugged me tight and guided me toward the escalator going down. As it happened, my aunt and mother were right in front of us, they thought we'd be waiting on a lower floor, so when they looked around and saw me behind them they were shocked, then we all broke into tears right there on the escalator.

Did you find it hard to adjust to life in the U.S.? What did you like most about your new life here? What did you miss?
New places are exciting and beautiful when you have a relative to help you out. My brother was very supportive. In the beginning I found very difficult to adjust myself, the language, the documents needed to get jobs and the luck of experience in this country that was one of the most challenge situations that I went through.

I missed my mother, my relatives and friends with who I spent the most time in my country.

Describe your first experience seeing snow.
I remember it was a Saturday in March. I was awakened by my mother and she walked me to her room. It had the biggest window and I could see all the glistening white snow and it was incredible to look at.
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This is Sandra Levine, from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. She is married to an American and lives in Cranston.

Why did you leave your country? What do you most regret leaving?
I left my country because I wanted to learn English. I worked in one of the biggest Oil Companies in Bolivia Chaco S.A. as a Vice-President’s Assistant and they needed English speaking staff. I got a Student Visa to USA and I saved money for my English classes and for my expenses. I was lucky that my brother offered me a place to stay.

I have no regrets. It was one of my goals to come here and I’m glad I did it. I prepared myself two years before I moved to Rhode Island.

Describe your most vivid memory about arriving for the first time in the U.S.
The first time I came to U.S.A was on August/1997 and I fell in love with the summer of the small state of Rhode Island. I visited Newport and the tourist places. Everything I saw it I like and enjoyed it very much.

Did you find it hard to adjust to life in the U.S.? What did you like most about your new life here? What did you miss?
New places are exciting and beautiful when you have a relative to help you out. My brother was very supportive. In the beginning I found very difficult to adjust myself, the language, the documents needed to get jobs and the luck of experience in this country that was one of the most challenge situations that I went through.

I missed my mother, my relatives and friends with who I spent the most time in my country.

Describe your first experience seeing snow.
I learned a lot since I came to USA. I have been working hard to get what I accomplished, emotionally and professionally and I’m grateful for my family, my daughter and my husband, they made me adapt to this country very much. I overcome a lot of difficulties during the 14 years I live here. I’m very happy that I speak English and for the opportunities I have in Rhode Island.

The first time I saw the snow I went outside to feel it with my hands and I asked my brother to take me a picture of that moment. I still love it but I don't like too much of it.