"Some of my happiest times were when I was growing up in El Salvador. I remember being around my cousins and playing. We never worried, 'Is something going to happen to us?' When I was in the second grade, we would play softball. But we did not have the regular ball. We would get some newspaper and squeeze it very tight. Then we would get a piece of hose and wrap it around the paper. We used our hands for a bat as we gathered after school to play a game. The ball wasn't heavy so they would throw it to you and you would hit it with your hands and run around the bases. Those were really happy times.
"When I came to America, there was a civil war in El Salvador. Before that, I had taken some classes in English, but I still didn't know very much when I came here. Especially, I didn't know how to communicate in this culture so I took some ESL classes to improve. At first I would take the classes during the day but then I started to work and so I switched to night classes. I have taken many years of ESL but it has paid off.
"The differences from my old country to my new one is tremendous. El Salvador is a third-world country. It is very poor. And so it is very different here. You can do so much more with even a little here. I am so happy that this is my country now. You can achieve what you want here. As long as you want to, as long as you want to work hard. You can do it. That is the big difference. In El Salvador it is really tough, really tough. If you are poor, you are poor and it is really hard to get out of there. And over here there are more opportunities."