I recently wrote a YCteen story about how difficult it was for me to reconnect with my mother after being separated from her for so long. We’re originally from Colombia and she came to the United States before me, when I was only 5. I was not able to join her until I was 12, and by that time both of us had changed a lot. I figured other kids at my international high school at LaGuardia Community College might have similar feelings and experiences, so I decided to ask them. Here’s what some of them told me. Valentina Ferreira
Luisa Garces, 17, Colombia
My journey from Pereira, Colombia, to New York was simple—just a six-hour plane ride. I came here with my sister. My mom had come two years before us.
Spending this period of time without my mom affected our relationship. I think it’s important to have your parents’ company when you are growing up. My dad was not in my life either, so I had this constant thought of, Where are my parents? So when my mom and I reunited, we argued a lot. I asked, “Why did you leave me?” and “How could you come to this country without me and my sister?”
For the first few years I resented her. But eventually I understood that she had to leave for economic reasons. I’m not justifying what she did, because I felt abandoned. I’m just saying now I understand her reasons and I don’t judge her.
Ang Sherpa, 17, Nepal
I came here nine years ago from Nepal. When my dad first moved to the U.S., I was just a baby. He came here to make enough money to support us back home, and to save money to bring us to New York. So when I came here, it felt like I was living with my dad for the first time. At first our relationship was dry, but with time I noticed my dad was a kind person. He gives me a lot of advice on how to survive in a new country and respect everyone’s freedom as if it was yours.
Kiara Cornejo, 16, Ecuador
When me, my mom, and my sister got permission to immigrate to the United States, my father had to stay behind. He came five years later when I was 11. I thought to myself, Wow, it is really weird to be around him all the time. In Ecuador, he worked during the week in another city so I only saw him on the weekends. I’m still not used to him being with us all the time. But I’m glad he’s finally here after those years of being apart.
Viktoria Kempinska, 17, Poland
I came here in 2015 with both of my parents. In Poland, people are not as open and don’t often talk or address each other if they don’t know them. But here people are more friendly and warm with each other, and they act more free and open-minded. There is a great sense of freedom here compared to Poland. Even the relationship with my parents was cold back in Poland. I did not feel a good connection with them. But since we have moved here, I think the culture has helped me and my parents build a good relationship. I talk more with my mom, and both parents have adopted a warmer heart.