Conflict & Justice

Growing up in two worlds

Cesar and his family made the journey north when he was 9 years old. He says it was sudden but his parents emphasized that he'd have a better life. Until then he had only known his village in the remote hills in central Mexico. In Seattle he quickly learned how to juggle three languages: English at school, Spanish in the neighborhood, and his native dialect at home. Now he's 14. it's clear the time in Seattle has jostled his language skills and his identity. He feels he's part of this country but also of Mexico. He likes the internet. He looks at a video of Mexican dancers that he participated in, a common celebration from his village in Mexico. Here in Mexico, 3,000 miles away, a different teen with a different story is celebrating. He used to live across the street from Cesar in Seattle but has come back to central Mexico and brought with him city ways and gang connections. Miguel is using a blue bandana and huge jeans. He mixes with the crowd but hardly blends in. he says his parents sent him back here because he was being bad and got kicked out of school for fighting. But the final straw is when Miguel was shot at by a rival gang member in the parking lot outside his apartment. That's when his dad decided to bring him back to Mexico. He says he's not really part of the gang anymore, and he wants to get married now. here he works in carpentry with his grandfather and he'll eventually head back north. He sees his future as moving back and forth across the border. Miguel is making a video for his parents. The grandfather who helped raise Cesar is currently farming, and he fondly remembers his grandson, who he hasn't seen since he was eight. As he relives these memories, his heart seems to break. Back in Seattle, Cesar is homesick for his grandfather too. He values his American education but sometimes worries that immigration is too dangerous and thinks growing up back in Mexico might've been easier. He is glad his family came to the U.S. he wants to finish high school here and then go to college in Mexico in a big city. He says home is on both sides of the border.

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