“The Dove, ” written by Julie Blythe, portrays the personal histories of two Mexican teenagers: Gabi, a young woman of just 15 who lived near Acapulco, and Paco, a 19-year old man from Baja California. Separately, each youth made the difficult decision to leave the hardships of Mexico in search of a better life in the United States. They eventually meet and marry in Iowa
The following is an adapted excerpt of “The Dove.”
Gabi settled into the routine of school and life with her husband. Through hard work and diligent study, she continued to make progress in learning English. While she made strides in her education, she still felt isolated and frequently rejected by other students.
Although there were language and cultural barriers to overcome, Gabi continued to pursue her studies with diligence. Achieving her goal of learning English and graduating from high school were highly important to her.
During her junior year, Gabi discovered that she and Paco would become parents the following July. This was an exciting moment for them as a couple, but it motivated Gabi to study even harder. Her English skills were improving and she was successful in completing more rigorous classes. Graduation from high school during the next school year was an attainable goal.
In July, Gabi and Paco were blessed with the arrival of their first son, Francisco, born with dark hair and deep brown eyes like his parents. With daycare help from both of their parents, Gabi continued her high school studies that fall. During her senior year, she took more difficult science and history classes, and passed high school government, while maintaining a grade point that placed her on the honor roll. “I can do this!” Gabi frequently said to herself.
During her advanced Spanish class, the students were asked to write a poem in Spanish. Gabi pondered her topic and finally decided to write a poem about a dove. She spent a great deal of time writing and Paco helped her to illustrate the poem by drawing a beautiful white dove. For Gabi, this poem [titled “La Paloma” or “The Dove”] reflected both the hardships of the journey that had brought her to this point in her life and her strong desire to one day return home to Mexico.
Paloma, You fly high in the sky And know the wide sea, You fly from here, to over there. Paloma, You, with flight, have forgotten your home And don’t know what awaits you in the new place where you will arrive. Paloma, So much you have suffered when you are far from your home, And you have defied the winds, the rain and the snow. Paloma, Someday you will triumph and all of those birds that laughed at you, because you didn’t know how to fly, will realize that you already know how to fly. And when the end arrives, you will return to your nest, Where your parents saw you be born, And you will be happy forever.
In May of her senior year, Gabi achieved her goal. Juggling the responsibilities of both wife and mother, she successfully graduated from high school with honors. During her senior year, she had completed several health classes and discovered an interest in health care occupations. It was her dream to pursue a nursing degree at the local community college. Paco, her 10-month old son, and her family proudly attended her graduation. Gabi knew that her poem had come true; she had succeeded in overcoming great obstacles to triumph and, like the dove, had learned to fly.
"The Dove" was originally written for and published by the Hispanic Story Project. This broadcast was edited from the original text by Lorenzo Sandoval with permission from the Iowa Writing Project and is one of a four part series made in collaboration with One Book One Siouxland.