By Juliana Betancourt
Riverhead High School
2019 Anne Mackay Scholarship Winner Juliana Betancourt
For me, growing up wasn’t always easy. Before I started school I did not fully comprehend and speak English until I got into kindergarten. I knew a few words like the generic “hi”, “bye,” “pee pee,” if i ever needed to use the bathroom and a couple others but I always kept to myself as a child until I spoke the same language as the other kids. I eventually learned how to speak English and became a social butterfly from there on out. This was one of the first of many challenges I have had in life. This affected me because I had to find another way to make friends even though I didn’t speak the language.
After I overcame that I made a lot of friends. Everything in my life was going great, I never missed a day of elementary and middle school. But then coming to high school, I faced another challenge; it was being a African- American Hispanic girl . I was always made fun of for being “so dark” as they would say. I never truly understood racism until I hit high school. When I got to high school there was always this one kid that would just keep bothering me about being black and I was shocked. I have been going to a private Catholic school all my life and never did I expect to receive racist remarks. But I soon came to realize in any school i will go to I will always face a person that might not like how I look and have something to say about it. I eventually learned that not all people are going to like the way I look so then learned how not to let them walk over me and make those” jokes” everyday. I have dealt with it in so many other ways even from adults. One of the earliest racist thing I’ve dealt with was when I was younger I went to the library with my best friend who was white and this older lady came up to my friend and told her I’m just using her for money. That was one of the worst days of my life I asked my mom to pick me up from her house after. I still see that woman to this day and every time I see her I just think of what she said to me.
These experiences have shaped me to become the person I am today. I take things into account before I say things that would hurt others feelings. I now know that in my life there will always be people trying to bring me down for being who I am. I know that not everyone will agree with me or like me even but I can’t do anything to change their minds I can only to fight back with hard work and achievement to become something that they never thought I would be come and make myself proud. This is why I want to help others with similar or different situations such as mine and to make sure that bullying never happens no matter how different that person is to another. No one deserves to be feel ugly or not good enough in life. In this world we were brought to be different and not all the same because if we were all the same the world wouldn’t be interesting. We , as individuals all have a purpose to be in this world, whether it’s small or big.