I moved from a tiny town in Pennsylvania to the much larger city of Columbus, Ohio to go to college in August of 2008. I had moved to a big, unfamiliar city all by myself to get an education and to play softball, not realizing that after one year and many tears later, I would be quitting softball; the only thing that made me, “me” for the past 13 years of my life. But after I did, I never looked back.
I got a job serving at a restaurant, where I met some really great people. Many of them became extremely important figures in my life, but the people who I was most astonished by were the Latino cooks who made up 90% of the kitchen staff. These men were the hardest workers I have ever seen, and I’ve played on extremely competitive sports teams my entire life. They came to work every day with a smile on their face, and they were the single reason that I wish every day that I could leave my “big girl job” that I have now and just go back to spending all my time there once again. They made me laugh every single day, and when one my friends from back home died very unexpectedly, they were the ones who dried my tears. They taught me to be hopeful and to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
These people made me realize that being American isn’t about the documents we possess with our names stamped on them. It’s about having hope and chasing dreams, and having the ability to be the person you want to be. Because of them, I am forever changed; and I think it’s for the better.