By Paola Johnson
It has been over six months since I first started interning at Taller de José and living in Chicago. It has been a challenging but fulfilling experience. During this time I have been immersed in the different neighborhoods and areas of this city through my own eyes and the eyes of my clients. They have taught me throughout my time here that during moments of stress you can always have a time to smile.
One of my recent clients had to go to Cook County Hospital to make an appointment for her health. There was a misunderstanding on my end and I went to the hospital first rather than the clinic she was at. I was irritated at myself because I prolonged her appointment. I had to come back and meet her so we could take public transportation to the hospital together. While at the hospital, she opened up to me about her experience coming to this country with her family. It was hard leaving her country where she had everything: a house, car, and job. She came here to fight for a better future for her kids. Although there were times when they were only able to eat beans for meals and only buy used clothing, she could have quit and felt defeated. But she found the strength within herself to push through, knowing this was going to make her family stronger. She was laughing at herself! She mentioned how she never wanted to come to the US but did. I saw her smiling and that made me stop. She was still smiling. After everything she went through, crossing the border, going from having everything to nothing, battling illness, and struggling for her future, she was able to laugh and smile.
Even through the misunderstanding I had that morning; she was able to change my perspective at that moment. Regardless of what happens, happened, or what you’ve been through, don’t forget to smile.