School Money

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
My bag of coins of different currencies
My bag of coins of different currencies

The sound of my 6 AM alarm disturbs the morning stillness. I roll out of bed dreading the thought of yet another school day. As my mother hands us our lunch money for the day, she reminds my sister and me of how lucky we are. She was born in Cavaillon, Aux Cayes, Haiti in 1978. Some of her most joyous and sorrowful memories occurred in school. She reminisces the days when she and her peers would dance in the moonlit night after a long school day. Such joys rented a space in her memories despite the hardships that life in Haiti produced. She and my grandmother struggled to make ends meet to pay for the education of herself and her five siblings. My mother, having been denied education, was able to grasp the gravity of its value from an early age. She recounts a day, when she walked home from her school in Port-au-Prince in tears, because she wasn’t able to pay for a test. Thus, she could not help but feel like there was no hope for her future. It’s no surprise to find out that when she finally migrated to Brooklyn, NY in 1995, school was the first thing she sought after. How ironic that while my sister and I spent mornings crying over having to go to school, my mother once spent her tears on being sent home from school. Reflecting on the countless stories my mother shared about her time in school after arriving here made me approach school with an attitude of gratitude rather than dread. My mother has come a long way from the poverty she suffered in Aux Cayes. This family, her assets, her job, her inspiring legacy in the making are the manifestation of her efforts in school.

Place(s): Haiti, New York
Year: 1995

– Ashley Nelson (Audio clip: Mom)

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant