- Jorge Mena, Associate Director, UIC Latino Cultural Center
I learned English by reading Goosebumps books after leaving Mexico abruptly in the middle of third grade and landing in Dallas, Texas along with my mother and younger sister. Up until then, as an 8-year old boy, I spoke no English other than "yes/no" and "McDonald's." During that time, as we prepared to cross the border and enter the country with the help of a coyote, I remember being told, in Spanish, "If the guy with the gun points at you, you have to say 'I'm an American citizen.'" So there I was, 8 years old practicing this false phrase over and over again, preparing for THE moment. We got to the border. Thankfully, the guy with the gun only made eye contact, so I repeated the line in my head, and landed in El Paso, Tejas.