Hey, migrant, why don’t you go back to your own country where you belong!” came the taunt from behind Carlos’ Shoulder.
“Migrant.” It was a name Carlos had learned to despise, along with many other labels that thoughtless classmates hurled in his direction.
Carlos Esquivel and his family had recently moved from pasture land in Mexico to a large sheep ranch near Fruita, Colorado. Carlos, like his father, was an excellent sheep rancher even at age 12. He would have been satisfied to stay home and take care of Rancher Brown’s sheep. But his father wanted something better for his son. He felt Carlos should learn to read, write, and do math.
Carlos felt overwhelmed. He knew very little English and was now expected to learn things in this new language.
Fortunately, Carlos had several aunts who lived nearby. They’d moved to the U.S. many years earlier to help farmers harvest crops in the Fruita area.
“Carlos, your English is getting better,” announced Aunt Maria one day in her kitchen as she tutored her nephew.
“But there is so much to learn,” complained Carlos.
“Carlos, when you’re around others who speak English, you learn the language quicker,” she said. “You are learning many words from the children at school already.”
“Well, some of the words I’ve learned no one should use,” Carlos said with embarrassment. “The boys at school still call me many names.”
“Carlos, why don’t you come to my church sometime?” Aunt Maria suggested. “You’ll meet other children who’ve spoken English from birth. There are some nice boys there. I’m sure you would like them. Spending time with them will force you to think and speak in English.”
Aunt Maria made the arrangements, and soon Carlos attended her small church. There Carlos met two boys about his age, Leigh and Jonathan.
Both boys took time to be-friend Carlos, and the three quickly became best buddies. Carlos was so thankful he’d met them. Neither of them called him ugly names like the boys at school did.
Neither of his two new friends knew how to speak Spanish, so Carlos taught them a few words. In the meantime, he began to understand what they were saying in English. He found that to understand the jokes his friends told him, he had to learn their language. Once he did, the three of them had many good laughs. Carlos no longer felt like an out-sider, a migrant. Now he felt as if he were with friends he’d known all his life. Now he felt he belonged.