BY ALISA NDOCI
I have been in the U.S for almost six years now. The last five I have spent missing my family while working hard to make them proud of me. When COVID-19 hit, a lot of my friends expressed that they now understood what it was like to be away from loved ones for long periods of time. Of course these sentiments were always followed by statements that tried to belittle their experience, because they felt so badly for mine. However, the truth of the matter is that it only made me feel more alone for people around me to say that they could never endure the things I do. Endurance is not a choice a lot of the time, it is the only option.
Becoming a part of Angelica Village allowed me for the first time to be amongst people who not only understand, but know my reality like the back of their hands. Young adults like myself who left homes at far younger ages fleeing war, violence, and crime in hopes for a better life. I hadn’t been able to process how deeply I have been impacted by the years I have spent away from all that I called home, until I saw myself in so many other people. Truly, I have been blessed in many ways to have found a community that makes me feel like I belong. Being surrounded by people who I share so many lived experiences with is bittersweet. There is a strange sense of comfort in knowing I am not alone, but I say it is bittersweet because it points out time and time again how the American immigration system fails its migrants. Nevertheless, there is so much hope and beauty in knowing that those who care, those who understand it, and those who feel for it, will dedicate their lives to make a difference.
During our time in El Paso we saw young moms, children from ages 0 to 15, separated spouses walk their paths out of Immigration and Customs Enforcement into the doors of The Casa de Refugiado. My first thoughts were about how unfair it is that where you come out of your mothers womb sets your destiny for life. This could be the small difference of 200ft on each side of the border in El Paso, a border that is raised and stands there on stolen native land. If you are reading this and have not lately thought about the privilege of your citizenship, I hope you take a moment to do so soon. I hope you also take a moment to learn more about current immigration policies that are harmful, like Title 42, and I hope you find a way not to save anyone for no one needs saving, but I hope you find a way to further the liberation of others in hopes of furthering yours. For as long as some of us aren’t free, none of us are.
A suitcase, a one way ticket, and the American Dream
Code switching headaches
“Si je ti Mami?” at 11PM Mountain Time
Much less painful than the heartache of missed birthdays, weddings, and funerals
Covid isolation was your small glimpse into the life of an immigrant
How unfair it is to have something bigger than you decide if you can see your loved ones?
Five years of severed ties that linger through the Whatsapp phone calls
“Do you have good service?”
“Ah no…I think my wifi is bad”
A melting pot that I can’t seem to mesh in
Assimilation or integration
Longing for smells and flavors that show up in your sleep
Something screams wake up… “that byrek bite felt so real”
Confusing reality with fever dreams
There I get to hold my Sister, be held by my Mother and feel the soft hands of my Nana touch on my face
The same hands that fed me love from birth
“I think I’m full Nana
Alisa Ndoci (she/they) grew up in Fushe-Arrez, Albania and first came to the United States as a junior in highschool. After her exchange year she decided to pursue an education in the U.S. and continued to complete her AA degree at a community college and completed her BA in Political Science at Gonzaga University. Alisa wants to study Social Work in hope to pursue her goal of working towards collective liberation, equity and justice.
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.