by Mitch Hinojosa, Youth Engagement Coordinator at Project for Pride in Living – LEAP
It’s hard enough trying to figure out what to do after college, whether it’s looking for a job right away or continuing school. Deciding to do AmeriCorps was an easy decision, and choosing where to go was as well, I liked the position and I wanted to explore a new place.
However, moving to a new state and starting a new life has been harder than expected, especially when I don’t want to lose my identity and where I come from. I first experienced this challenge in college, when I was usually the only minority in each class; I assumed that moving to a new state would be similar. The first week after deciding to do AmeriCorps, I had a swarm of emails from different programs in different states, each asking me to apply and join their team. Every email had positive things to say about how nice their programs were, and from the pictures, things over there seemed to be no different from back home. The other offers I had were not as connected to youth as this one was, which is what I wanted.
Even my final decision to move to Minnesota, I saw amazing pictures of how great it is to live here. but I soon found out that living in a place where the majority of people do not look like you, speak the same first language, or have the same values, was the truth. Of course, there are many things that I’m finally starting to like about the Twin Cities enough to live here for a while, but I don’t see myself living here forever. I’m constantly being challenged on my values and beliefs from friends I’ve made, people I work with, even people I hardly know. It’s always great to learn and grow, but it’s not okay to lose yourself to try to fit in.
If I had a chance to go back and change anything about my experience so far, it would honestly be nothing, because this challenge that I’m currently facing is what I will look back at and appreciate what I learned; at least that’s what I hope I will be thinking. So far I’ve learned that it’s okay to be challenged and to question your own identity, but most importantly, share my knowledge so others also have the opportunity to grow.