Yaneth Rosas' SCP Essay Submission
Every Scholar will attend a 2-6 week Summer College Program at a top college the summer before their junior year. In many ways, the applications for SCP model that of the college application process, essays included. Yaneth Rosas, a Scholar at Zion Benton Township High School shared her essay with us.
Yaneth Rosas will be attending Cornell Summer College for her SCP this summer.
Essay 1: Imagine you went back in time 50 or 100 years. Choose one or more personal attributes or characteristics (such as your gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, nationality, culture, political creed) and, using those attributes as a framework, describe how your place in society would be different, and why. As desired, you may write this as a formal essay or as a story.
“Levantate Carmen!” It’s always too early for her to start yelling like this, but that doesn't stop my mother. A sliver of sunlight is just barely emerging from my window, bouncing off so elegantly onto my brother Carlos’s messy hair. He's immune to her yelling nowadays, so he doesn’t even hear it anymore. Of course, he’s had fourteen years, so it’s not that impressive. For a fourteen year old, he’s really mature. We often have these talks about what we will do when we grow up and just about anything we can find to talk about. Lately, he’s been bringing up Cesar Chavez a lot. Our talk about the latest Cesar Chavez movement ran pretty long last night, so I assume he’s extra tired today.
Mama rushes me to get ready and eat something and we’re off to the farm. We tred the same tiresome road like we have since I was seven. By the time we arrive, the sun is just as awake as I am, and giving me a warm embrace. I walk over to where the girls my age are packing produce like it had been rehearsed by our mamas before us. Lemon, apple, lemon, apple. Left, right, left, right. Repetitive, ridiculous rendition. Mama says it’s going to get better, and that it’s going to pay off, but how am I supposed to believe it when this is what I am given to reference my hope? Day after day it’s always the same thing. We’re immigrants. Some other nicknames I’ve heard others use are “worthless thieves” or, my favorite, “that beaner”. We’re not the same as the other’s with the fair skin. The skin that reflects the sun so much that they look godly and powerful. I look down at my arm, ashamed that it could look so dirty and be so useless. Why do I have to be like this?
Something round and tough smacks into my shoulder blade, immediately throwing my thoughts out of mind. “ Todo bien?” It’s my friend Maria standing behind me. She’s carrying a wooden box of fresh lemons to the older women to strip them of their leaves. I don’t know how to respond. How can anything or anyone be good? We are immigrants. I can’t even recognize what good could be anymore. I grew up not recognizing anything else but this. The more years that pass, the less I can imagine what a good life could be. I always have my family, but it’s so hard to see them working so hard just to survive. Even my younger brother Carlos. I remember Carlos telling me about how Cesar Chavez was trying to grow his labor union but it was much too difficult for the men to give up their paying jobs for L a Causa. We’re trapped like animals in a pathetic cage of our own making and not a soul seems to mind. It’s as if they’ve decided that this is all we can be and we can’t choose to be anything else. My teeth are clenched, but I force out, “ Si, todo bien”, and she continues walking. Come on Carmen, get through another day.
Lemon, apple, lemon apple. Left, right, left, right. The sun is finally striking us from directly down and we know it’s time to eat. I find my mother and join her under the shade of a tree nearby. She packed lunch for us both and we sit there admiring the kind breeze. After we finish, we get back to what we need to finish for today before the intimidating fair man comes by. Left, right, left, right. My arms become heavy with soreness and my mind exhausted with the redundant, rhythmic rant. But Mama hasn’t told me to stop yet, so I continue. Left, right, left, right. Like playing a game except only with my life. I’m unsure what to make of it anymore. We’ve been like this for so long; something needs to change. My hands are dirty and weak but I can’t stop. Left, right, left, right. It’s not even a matter of thinking anymore, but simply a way of being. I watch as my hands keep moving without me. They seem to hurl the produce more than pack it now. One hand is racing the other, trying to see which one is faster. They get quicker and quicker and I, just a witness to my own hands, watch intently. Left, right, left, right. Quicker and quicker, and they can’t seem to stop anymore. Just as they’re about to intensify the competition, my mother grabs my shoulder. She glances at the messy packing and takes hold of my hand to lead me home down the oh so familiar path.
I hold her hand the whole way back and talk to her about what Carlos heard from the other men on the farm the night before. S eñor Chavez is trying to give farmers a chance too. I can’t help but smile and dream about what I could make of my life once I was educated. Maybe 1967 would be the start of something. My mother only holds my hand tighter and nods at my excitement. I don’t understand why there’s such a sadness behind her smile, but my thoughts wander into the sky as they exhilarate with hope. We walk into our home and start on dinner for Papa and Carlos. We get the masa and start on the t ortillas. Soon after, we both start on the meat and make carnitas.
The sun starts to sink away as we sit there waiting. They finally arrived and we all began to eat together. As we’re eating, my father brings up a boy by the name of Juan again who “seems like a good guy”. He goes into how hard-working he is, how respectful, and how any 15-year-old girl would be lucky to have him. I look up at him, daring to look him in the eyes, and tell him I'm not interested. With that he starts, “ Carmen, necesitas encontrar un hombre ahora que eres joven. No puedes-”, and I get up. “ Disculpame”, I say, gathering my dishes to put in the sink, and walk to my room, so infuriated. It’s always the same thing with him. This Juan kid is probably exactly the same as Papa: unable to see what’s wrong with the fact we’re treated worse than animals. Even though we’re immigrants, it’s not fair. I expect he just wants a woman who’ll cook his food when he gets back from work.
I lie down in the corner of the room with my sheets, my sore arms and feet, and get ready to sleep. This can’t be all I was meant to do. Lemons and apples, left and right, this can’t be all there is. I know Mama and Papa are doing their best, and I love them for it. Even Carlos stopped complaining and just went with Papa to work in the fields. Everyday it has been the same and, even before we moved here to California, it was like this. That being said, I don’t understand how this can be satisfying for anyone. Hearing about what S eñor Chavez wants, about why he fights for us, about everything that I could learn, it’s all just so exhilarating. Maybe I can even finally get an education. Then I can actually give something back to my parents and educate other kids from my last labor camp. I want more. I am more than this. I know I wasn’t meant to do this all my life, I can feel myself being meant for more. I can be more, and I know I’m not the only one to believe that I can add something to this world. S eñor Chavez does, too. It’s got to just be a matter of time. I finally close my eyes and dream of a better time that leaves everything feeling alright.