My essay, “The Long Road to Opportunity,” is designed to convey details about my childhood in Mexico to the reader. By using real anecdotes from my past, I attempt to show the reader my hunger for knowledge and the obstacles I had to overcome to achieve my goals. I believe the strongest points in the essay are my thesis, which sets the reader up for the general theme of the essay to follow, and my examples of my father’s deeply held beliefs.
Citing examples of specific things he said or did illustrates why it was difficult for me to act against his wishes. I also believe my essay has a good, natural flow. It begins with a broad look at the main idea, and then works through the story in chronological order, culminating in the present. I feel that the information on Mexican culture also works well. One weakness of the essay would be that it is difficult to tell a detailed story in such a short space. Ideas and stories must be condensed in order to cover all of the main points I wish to address. With more space, I could develop each anecdote more completely, and do a better job of showing rather than telling.
“The Long Road to Opportunity”
When I was five years old I knew I would one day go to school and become an engineer. The road to where I am today has been long and difficult. I was born and raised in a small rural town where the most important activity in life was the harvest of the fields. Agriculture played an important and central role in everyone’s lives; everything else was seen as secondary and a waste of time. An interest in going to school was seen as an excuse to avoid responsibilities on the family farm. My father held these beliefs sacred, and as such proved to be a formidable opponent in my quest for education.
I grew up the youngest of my eight siblings in a town called Dolores Hidalgo in Guanajuato, Mexico. My father farmed over 600 acres of land, divided into two parts; one part was used to raise cattle and the other part to grow corn and beans. My father believed that after God and family, the most important thing was the land. He believed a person’s character was manifested in his harvest. If one loved and respected nature, She would return that love and respect with an excellent harvest.
Growing up on the farm, I enjoyed working in the fields and tending to the cattle. However, my first love was school. My father didn’t understand the passion I had for learning. When I was 4 years old, my father sent me to school with my sister Maria, who was six years old and scheduled to start first grade. My dad did not want my sister to walk to school by herself. When I got there, the teacher, Mr. Mendez, allowed me to sit in the classroom alongside my sister. After four weeks of classes, Mr. Mendez asked my father to visit the school. I was so scared Mr. Mendez was going to tell my dad that I could not go to school with Maria. When my father arrived at the school, Mr. Mendez advised him that I was the best student in his class and that he was going to speak to the principal about formally accepting me into school.
My dad, who appeared to be in shock, was not happy with the news. He told the teacher the only reason I was sent to school was to escort my sister. He further stated that school would take away from my chores around the farm. I begged my dad to allow me to go. Furthermore, I promised to get up early and tend to the cattle before school and to continue with the farm work upon returning home in the afternoon. To my surprise, my father finally gave in. I was the happiest boy on earth – I would have access to more books. However, it never got easier. Every year for the first six years was a constant battle with my dad.
My father believed the only persons that should attend school were the ones willing to serve God as a priest or nun. People living on farms should dedicate themselves to taking care of the land, he said. He claimed that previous generations of our people had all been farmers and had lived well without the need for proper education.
Rural schools have been an important part of Guanajuato since the beginning of the rural school program. In these schools, teachers put an emphasis on the concept of nationalism to ensure that all students have a strong sense of what it means to be Mexican. In the classrooms, teachers become valuable resources for students, making them think more deeply about their identities and examine their culture.
In class, Mr. Mendez would tell stories about the post-revolution decline in education throughout the country, caused by the conflicts and insecurity of the time. The influence on rural education was very important because it was the center of cultural life in the 1920s and 1930s. Rural education could be seen as a legitimate byproduct of the Mexican Revolution, allowing social justice programs to spread throughout all corners of the country. Rural schools began with the premise that through education, people would learn to
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