La Americana

Sr. Wantabee’s payin job is working in ESL. She has a “life time California credential” but Minnesota does not recognize two states in the union – California and Texas because they teach weird things like ESL! Duh. She returned to the U of MN at a ripe old age of 58 and got an additional liscensure in ABE, Adult Basic Education, to make her legitimate in teaching. The U of MN accepted her years of teaching bilingually in Kenya and so the Board of Education accepts the U of MN stamp of approval – but only for 5 years. Sr. Wantabee now must earn 125 CEUs (continuing education units) before June 2012 to maintain her liscense. It’s time to get serious. So…

Wednesday she attended a movie discussion group on the movie “La Americana,” led by an immigration lawyer. Sr. Wantabee did not consider herself oh so knowledgeable on the subject so thought she’d check out this 3 CEU credit.

“La America” is about a woman in Bolivia who has a daughter she must provide for and decides to enter the USA illegally and works in cleaning work. After she gets across the border, her daughter is hit by the school bus and ends up in a wheel chair. The mother meets a man who loves her and they send funds to Bolivia for the girl’s medical expenses. What does the daughter want for her 15th birthday but the return of the mother. The mother returns to be reunited with the daughter who she discovers has a fractured hip and a frozen leg that can only be dealt with through high medical expenses. Eat or help the girl. The movie ends with the opening scene of the woman leaving her compound again to try to return to the States again to get the money for the treatment of her daughter. “I wanted to be a good mother but…”

It was a very gripping human tragedy story, highlighting the reality of people living in poor countries. In fact, how many similar stories has Sr. Wantabee heard except that Kenya does not border on the USA. She was deeply touched.

Sr. Wantabee did not consider herself an knowledgeable about immigration and Latinos but in fact, she has a British husband and gone through the whole immigration lawyer process with him loosing his green card and becoming naturalized. She has two adopted Kenya children who also live in the reality that a policeman can stop the card for some reason known to them, ask for ID, look at the face, ask if they were born in the USA and take them to the police station for a whole check.

In the discussion room, Sr. Wantabee sat there, married to a Brit and with two Kenyan children. The teacher to her left is third generation American of Hispanic descent married to a Frenchman. A teacher to Sr. Wantabee’s right has a Costa Rican son-in-law. The presenter is an American married to a Scotsman. We all realized the precariousness of their living situations, in the midst of the paranoia of the “alien” but they are so integrated into our identity.

At age 64 will Sr. Wantabee get those 125 CEUs to prove to “the system” that after teaching for 40 years, she is qualified to continue part time in to retirement? It remains to be seen.

At a deep level, Sr. Wantabee understood “La Americana.” “She too wanted to be a good mother….” “She wants to be a good teacher…” “She wants to …”

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