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Eighteen Migration Years Gave Me Wings, Maria Ramirez

In 1974 eighteen years had passed since I was born in Nyssa's labor camp, which I would leave behind after this final harvest. I had laid in the station wagon bundled with my baby bottle at my side as Mamá hurried to check on me, peeking through the window, when she worked the fields. As a child, I turned these fields into my playground. I grew quickly, taking on adult responsibilities. I missed a lot of schooling as I was pulled out before the school year was over and returned in late fall missing up to four months of yearly instruction. Yet, in the fields, I reaped lessons not taught in any classroom. I learned to be responsible, to value family, and work hard, to cooperate for a common good. I became resourceful. I did the best with what I had, yet always strived for something better. Doing without taught me to appreciate what I had. I learned to have courage as I faced my mountains, and that laughter was healing. Making sacrifices taught me to value what was important. I learned to never give up, to be resilient. In my migrant past, I lacked and yearned for much. Today I realized I had more than enough. In the vast scorching fields, I was often thirsty. Today, I thirst for those times.

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