Izel Nava (She/Her)
Editorial Team Member

There is a word in Spanish, ánimo, that means courage but with a little push. It’s a mantra Mexican people throw around. You say ánimo when someone is carrying something heavy and they start to slow down. It’s said when someone graduates as if to tell them there’s more work ahead, to keep working hard. Courage is ingrained in our culture from the moment we’re born. My mom jokes that we had to be courageous and resilient to live in Mexico. She’d have to wait until the next remittance to buy more food, buy soda because it was cheaper than water, and lather aloe on wounds because the hospital was too far. But I think what needed the most courage was leaving. There wasn’t much work in the pueblos, so the men would go to America to find work. When my Abuelo was around thirty, he immigrated to America to make glass on the coast. My parents left earlier. By the time I was born, my entire family was in the States. Everyone told me how lucky I was because I was born in the land of ánimo. 

But my parents were worried that I was growing up in a country that wouldn’t know what to do with me. They went to school in the late 80s and early 90s, which meant they spent a lot of the time not being able to communicate and being profiled. They doubted much had changed on raising brown children, even in the 21st century. They were always weary of me walking alone or having sleepovers. Up until my Sophomore year of highschool, I always had to hear from my friends how “strict” my parents were. I wasn’t allowed to be a passenger in a highschooler’s car, because I’d be plowed through the windshield. I wasn’t allowed to have my phone in my room at night because it rotted my brain, nor have airpods, because they give you brain cancer. I was used to paranoia. So I was surprised when they let me go abroad all by myself with a bunch of strangers. Even if it was educational, it was a big leap. It felt surreal to hug my parents goodbye, like I was waiting to wake up from a dream. It was funny to me, that they had come so far to live in a different country only for their daughter to leave it. But maybe that was the American Dream. Having the privilege to leave, to travel, to experience with security. Because when I was looking behind me for the final time before going through the TSA, my eyes met my mom’s. And I could see her mouthing “Ánimo”.