Reyna Gallegos 

SELF TOLD

WCCDA Narrative Series | Three

SEPT 2022

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Image by Reyna

I grew up in Puebla, Mexico. I came to New Jersey to be with my brothers in 1995. At first, I was going to just stay for 2 years, but I ended up staying longer because I met my husband and started having children. I decided to stay in New Jersey for my kids because of the education and employment opportunities there. After living in NJ for 12 years, we moved over to this area in Washington because of the weather.

I have 5 children ages: 2, 8, 12, 21, and 23. Two of my children currently attend Mount View Elementary School. I chose to take my kids there because of the dual language program. I'm very happy about this program because living here, my kids are easily exposed to English but not Spanish. It's really important to me for my kids to keep our language and continue to speak Spanish. At home, we typically speak Spanish. When we spend time together, we watch movies in Spanish, sing karaoke in Spanish, etc.  

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My son has asthma, and we wanted a different environment to better his condition. The change was really hard in the beginning because I didn't know many people here and there weren't many programs here for children like there is in NJ. I found that programs like dual language and Headstart was easily accessible there in NJ but not here in the White Center area. Luckily, things are changing and programs are becoming accessible here now. Also, I'm getting to know this community more, and I grew to really like this area. I hope my children can go to school and grow up here safely.

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Growing up, my parents spent a lot of time with me and my siblings. My dad passed away this year due to COVID and my mom passed away 6 years ago. I really appreciate and value the time my parents spent with me and taking care of me, so I really want to be able to do the same for my kids. Currently, I'm not working. But even when I was working before, I would prioritize making time for my kids and be there for them. I would participate in school events, get to know their teachers personally, and invite their friends over to our house.

 

I know that not every parent has the privilege to do so, but I really encourage parents to try to make as much time for their kids as possible and have open communication with their children. I also encourage the schools to make it easier for parents to be involved as much as possible. Kids go to school most of the day, and it's important that parents are engaged in what kids are learning and doing at schools. Because of my children, I have participated in many programs such as Parent Ambassador, Supporting Partnership in Education and Beyond (SPEB), the school PTA, Guiding Good Choices, Family Education Council, Play and Learn, etc. Because of COVID and recently having a baby, I've been taking some time off. But I'm hoping to get involved again very soon! 

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Image by West Side Blog

Besides improvements in educational programs available in White Center, I also like White Center because of the community here. I think we have a good community with happy and friendly people. The culture here is laid back and not as stressful. My family and I like really like to go to the parks, riding bikes and enjoying the outdoors. We typically go to West Crest because there's a safe cycling route there. White Center does have some places for families and young people, but I think we need more. I hope in the future, we can have more programs, events, activities, and safe places to bring community, families, and 

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youth together. We need to have more community events at the parks, like dancing, singing, watching movies, music playing, etc. We need a farmers market so that community people can sell their vegetables, cooked food, and other things. We need to have the infrastructure to support people to sell their foods at the market, like access to trash and water! We also need more programs to support people with mental health, housing, workforce training, employment, etc.

 

I look forward to more transit coming to White Center so that our families can commute easier. Though I've lived in several places before, I feel rooted here in White Center. I hope we can continue to have opportunities to keep doing better and strengthen our community. When my youngest is a little older, I hope to be able to have a place where I can sell food from Puebla and share a bit of my hometown with my community here. There's a lot of Mexican food around here, but there's no Puebla food! 

End of Narrative

Image by Reyna