Thursday, June 15, 2006

Meet Aleyda

Aleyda is a seventeen-year-old recent high school graduate who works at a Mexico Lindo, a restaurant/grocery store in historic downtown Carrollton, Kentucky. Although she works six days a week she admits the job is pretty easy. This week there have been few customers but she expects to be busy tomorrow for the soccer game. Mexico is playing in the World Cup and they have a television.

Aleyda is from Veracruz, Mexico and moved to Kentucky with her mother and younger brother five years ago. Her father had been living in the United States since she was six and when they came to visit for summer vacation, they stayed. Aleyda says it is great to have her whole family together again. As typical for siblings, she says her younger brother can be a big pain in the butt, but she still loves him. America has been an adjustment, but one that she has done gracefully. She recently received a scholarship to attend the local two-year community college and plans to become a Chemical Engineer, finishing her studies at Northern State University in Covington, Kentucky. Aleyda took a strong interest in chemistry and science her freshman year of high school but would not consider herself a chemistry geek.  “Everybody says it’s pretty hard but I think when you like something it’s not hard to do.”

Aleyda has a boyfriend of nine months named Brendan. She says at first a few people looked at them strangely because he is white but then they just got used it. She is mature about the relationship."We get along great and talk about our differences and what we can do to make it better. If something is bothering him or vice versus we always touch base with each other.” Aleyda enjoys the differences in people and has friends from many races and backgrounds. Her Hispanic friends in Kentucky often look at her strange because she has been in America longer than them and has integrated more into the culture. “The Hispanic people here are always together in a corner at school. My brother and I talk to everyone pretty much.  That is why they look at us weird. They are not racist and I am still friends with them but they just like to stick together. I ask them, ‘How come you don’t talk to everyone?’ and they are like, ‘I don’t know.’”

When Aleyda first moved to Carrollton the Hispanics were a small segment of the population but in the past five years, the number has grown tremendously. She says Hispanics are moving to the United States because there are more opportunities. Despite their differences she says the town is somewhat close-knit. “It’s a small town and everyone knows everyone. You can’t really do anything without everyone knowing about it the next day.” Aleyda comments that Carrollton can be boring at times. She likes to spend her time at the movies, hanging out with friends and going swimming at state parks. Today her friend is in a beauty pageant at the county fair behind Wal-Mart and she wants to go when she gets off work. Aleyda spends a lot of time on the computer at work and particularly likes Myspace, on online social network. We agreed to become Myspace friends and I was honored when she has added me to her top 8.

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