After both her parents died, Beatriz Gomez was adopted by an American family—a transition that brought her away from the familiarity of Mexico City and into a whole new world. Unable to speak English and unaccustomed to American traditions, Beatriz struggled to adjust to this new way of life.
Now older, Beatriz seeks out other immigrants to help them adapt to life in America—a process that has given her a very different perspective on the obstacles some face to get to the infamous land of opportunity.
This Montpelier, Vt. resident has traveled as far as Canada on her quest to help other Spanish-speaking immigrants. Whether filling out paper work for basic necessities like identification cards (many can’t write or don’t know English), or simply listening, her mission has been an enlightening experience.
“There are just so many stories,” Beatriz says. “There was one person who didn’t eat for a week to get here—another who lost his shoes while traveling over the border who had to keep walking without them. They tell me their stories and then they ask me how I got here from Mexico. And I tell them I took a plane. It’s hard to know how to feel about something like that.”
Through her conversations, Beatriz has discovered that many of the stereotypes about immigrants are inaccurate. In an effort to get out the truth, one of this communications major’s goals is to develop a film based on the stories she has collected. She wants to portray not only the sacrifices people have made to make it to America, but also the struggles they endure while trying to live here.
“I think it’s very important for people to see and understand what these people actually go through,” she says about the project.
This latest project is not the first Beatriz has created about her native country. This past March, Beatriz submitted a video regarding religion in Mexio to the Green Mountain Film Festival, a project that was so well received she continues to field questions about it. Later this month, she plans to return to Mexico to get more footage.
“Every time I go to Mexico I get something new,” she says when asked about the subject of this latest piece. “I just want to come back with something to amaze people—with something people don’t normally see in America.”
After Beatriz graduates in May, she would like to either stay in Burlington (where she recorded her first video) or move to somewhere in Latin America. Her experiences working for Green Mountain College’s student-run newspaper The Mountaineer ensures that she could work there as a journalist. Either way, she’d like to continue to help immigrants.
“Helping them makes you so happy in a different kind of way,” she says. “It’s like a present that you give to yourself.”
By Nicole Ainsworth '09