“From Guatemala to a U.S. university: my American Dream”

826 Valencia alumnus, scholarship winner, and keynote speaker at our 2019 Bookeaters’ Bash Gilda Temaj Marroquin wrote a powerful piece about her experience immigrating to the U.S. to pursue her education, which was published in News Decoder.

“In sixth grade, my dad took me out of school, as he had done with my two older sisters. He had supported my brothers’ higher education but expected us girls to marry and leave the house to start our own families,” she writes.

“I had different plans.”

She goes on to describe her journey, including a harrowing two months spent in a youth detention center in Arizona. Ultimately, she was reunited with her brother in San Francisco and found 826 programs through her school. “826 Valencia’s volunteers taught me to write by listening, providing encouragement and talking through ideas,” she writes. “They showed me that my voice matters.”

We’re so proud of all that Gilda has accomplished, and that 826 Valencia is part of her story. This summer, she will represent 826 Valencia as a delegate at the International Congress of Youth Voices. Read the full piece here.