Monday, March 8, 2010

"Writing from My Immigrant Experience," by René Colato Laínez

Writing from My Immigrant Experience

by René Colato Laínez

When immigrant children come to the United States, they experience a variety of emotional and cognitive adjustments in the new country. They have left behind a language, a culture and a community. From one moment to another, their familiar world changes into an unknown world of uncertainties. These children have been uprooted from all signs of the familiar and have been transported to an unfamiliar foreign land. In the process of adaptation, immigrant children experience some degree of shock. IN THE INNER WORLD OF THE IMMIGRANT CHILD, Cristina Igoa writes:

"This culture shock is much the same as the shock we observe in a plant when a gardener transplants it from one soil to another. We know that shock occurs in plants, but we are not always conscious of the effects of such transplants on children. Some plants survive, often because of the gardener’s care; some children survive because of the teachers, peers, or a significant person who nurtures them during the transition into a new social milieu."

I use my experience of being uprooted from my country of origin, being transplanted to the United States and my adaptation to a new culture in order to authentically and realistically portray the immigrant experience my picture books such as WAITING FOR PAPÁ, I AM RENÉ, THE BOY, RENÉ HAS TWO LAST NAMES and my new book MY SHOES AND I.

Stages of Uprooting

Immigrant children go through stages of uprooting to adapt to a new country:

1-Mixed emotions
2-Excitement or fear in the adventure of the journey
3-Curiosity, culture shock that exhibits as depression or confusion
4- Assimilation/ acculturation into the mainstream

During the first stage of the uprooting, children experience mixed emotions when the parents tell them that they will be moving to another country. Sometimes they are not informed until the actual day their journey begins. Most of the time the children do not know where they are going. They only know they must go because their parents are going. They do not have a choice.

In the second stage the children experience excitement or fear during the journey by train, car, plane, boat or on foot. They are usually with a parent or relative, and there is much discussion among them in their own language. The long and tiring journey begins.

MY SHOES AND I takes place during the first and second stages of uprooting. Mario is informed by his father that they are moving to the united states to meet Mamá.

For Christmas, Mamá sent me a new pair of shoes from the United States.

I love my new shoes. They walk everywhere I walk. They jump every time I jump. They run as fast as me. We always cross the finish line at the same time.

“Mario, these are very good shoes for the trip,” Papá says.

Papá tells me that it is a very long trip. We need to cross three countries. But no matter how long the trip will be, I will get there. My shoes will take me anywhere.

In MY SHOES AND I, I am telling my story and the stories of thousands of children who need to cross borders in order to accomplish their dreams.

About the book:

Mario is leaving his home in El Salvador. With his father by his side, he is going north to join his mother, who lives in the United States. She has sent Mario a new pair of shoes, and he is thrilled. He will need good shoes because the trip will be long and hard. He and his father will cross the borders of three countries. They will walk for miles, ride buses, climb mountains and wade a river.?? Mario has faith in his shoes. He believes they will take him anywhere. On this day, he wants to go to the United States, where his family will be reunited.??René Colato Laínez’s inspiring story, dramatically illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck, vividly portrays a boy who strives to reach a new land and a new life.

Review: School Library Journal

LAÍNEZ, René Colato. My Shoes and I. illus. by Fabricio Vanden Broeck. unpaged. Boyds Mills. 2010. RTE $16.95. ISBN 978-1-59078-385-6. LC number unavailable.

K-Gr 3—In this story of an arduous journey, Mario and his father leave their home and friends in El Salvador for a reunion in the United States with Mamá. The child is sad to go, but his mother has sent a pair of new shoes that "will take me anywhere." Along the way, they face many obstacles: a pack of hungry dogs steals their food in Guatemala City and Papa loses his wallet at the bus terminal in Mexico City. They cross deserts, mountains, and rivers—and three borders. Mario's shoes become soiled, torn, and water-logged, but with each setback, he croons a lullaby: "Sana, sana, colita de rana" and reassures himself that everything will be okay. On the banks of the final river, Mario summons his resolve: "I become a horse. My shoes will ride on me. They are on my shoulder. "'Don't worry, shoes, we will cross the finish line,' I say to them." This inspiring tale soars with real emotions, even as it celebrates the resiliency of children. Vanden Broeck's color-drenched illustrations on weathered backgrounds add immediacy and detail. This moving, heartfelt tale of courage and perseverance will be embraced by a wide audience of readers, young and old.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

Visit the author's website.

1 comment:

Donna M. McDine said...

Fascinating and essential book. Thanks for sharing!

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