The chilling weather surprised her and sent her running back into the Avoca airport in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Miguelina had just gotten off the plane after a two-hour flight from the Dominican Republic and took her first step into America. Upon her reentry she noticed traces of amusement on bystanders’ faces, and her nine-year-old daughter, Esmailen, shook her head in disbelief. The sound of laughter chorused throughout the entry of the airport, causing sideways glances from people walking nearby. Miguelina never expected such a shock, but she knew she had to pull herself together; she was doing this for her daughter.
Esmailen is better off here, Miguelina thought. Here, she could have the life she deserves.
In 2005 in the Dominican Republic, Miguelina was working as a pharmacist. Education in the Dominican Republic was generally poor, but in 1967 Laboral Especializado, industrial training schools that emphasized work for women opened up. Miguelina attended the school of El Centro de Estudios Tecnicos to learn about medicine. She had to know the chemicals in certain compounds and assumed the role of a doctor to correct ailments in patients who did not require a prescription from a physician. She only had to obtain a permit issued through the government to distribute more powerful drugs, but only issued them after analyzing the patient’s medical records for allergens.
In 2006 in the United States, her cousin Maria’s exploitations would have an auspicious effect on Miguelina’s life. Maria was a security guard at the Laurel Mall and approached a salesman who was browsing a dating site on his laptop, which had a picture of a woman that held a striking resemblance to her cousin in the Dominican Republic. The man was taken aback that this woman would just invade his privacy and look upon his possessions like that! Although defensive, curiosity took over his thoughts and filled his mind with images of this mysterious woman. He tried to warm up to Maria by bringing her a cup of coffee everyday and this occurrence went on for months until she said something about his advances.
“I’m a married woman!” she said, “You surely cannot continue in this behavior!”
He however saw these acts in an entirely different aspect.
“I want nothing to do with you! I just want to know about the woman in the picture,” he said.
Once this was understood, Maria was relieved and began a friendship with this salesman from Boscov’s. She explained that Miguelina lived in the Dominican Republic and spoke very little English, but once she could afford to go visit her, she would bring the salesman, Stewart, with her. He couldn’t wait for that day, and he was just as unaware as Miguelina about their eminent future.
Back in the Dominican Republic, Miguelina was enjoying her time off with a close co-worker friend who offered her some tourist tickets. These were passes that allowed Miguelina and her friend to travel around the Dominican Republic and experience the island. These attractions ranged from the highest peak of Pico Duarte to Lake Enriquillo and the large biodiversity within the island, all of which make it one of the most visited destinations in the Caribbean. Maria set up her visit to the Dominican Republic on a day that Miguelina was traveling with her friend, and on that day, Stewart would meet the girl he had only seen before on his computer screen.
The day had finally come. The salesman couldn’t hold back his excitement about meeting this beautiful girl he had never expected to truly come to know. He credited it all to Maria and he was so grateful for her help. Once he saw Miguelina he was speechless, but tried to communicate with the very little Spanish he could manage.
Stewart blurted out, “Hola.”
Miguelina was surprised to hear any foreign words from this American man’s mouth, but she went to inquire about whom this foreign man was. He answered with so-so, miming the hand gesture normally associated with it. She laughed and instantly a connection was struck between these drastically different people. At first she wasn’t too certain about dating an American man. She had stayed single in the Dominican Republic because it wasn’t safe to date; many households had cases of domestic violence. Law 24-97 was enacted to criminalize violent conduct to give women equal protection and benefits under the constraint of the law. This law was submitted to the Senate because approximately eighty percent of women who sought health care were injured in domestic violence.
I won’t expose my child to these Dominican men, she thought, I won’t put her safety in jeopardy.
Miguelina started talking to Stewart, but it was hard since she spoke very little English and he spoke minimal Spanish. Nevertheless, he called her several times a day–everyday–but each conversation was trying due to the language barrier. After his initial visit he came back to the Dominican Republic three times to see her, and by March, they had become very close. On October 24, 2009 Stewart and Miguelina and her daughter moved to America and Stewart and Miguelina got married.
The driving force that sent Miguelina to America was her daughter, Esmailen. Miguelina wanted to move to America because she believed the country had a better education system and laws that governed it compared to the minimal law enforcement in the Dominican Republic. If you were arrested in the Dominican Republic, you could bribe the court and get off with no repercussions. While she was in the Dominican Republic, her cousin told her wonderful stories about America that Miguelina would never have thought imaginable. She learned that you could walk through the streets at night without fear, and that jobs were plentiful. She knew that all these things were what her daughter needed. Miguelina’s mindset was focused on her daughter and although she knew she could live the rest of her life in the Dominican Republic, America was a better option for Esmailen. Supplemented by the stories of her cousin, television and radio broadcasts, when Miguelina thought about America she saw it as perfection, a thought shared by many others in the Dominican Republic.
Stewart met her at the airport once the initial shock of the cold had ended. He was so excited to see her and Esmailen and brought them straight home. Miguelina was surprised that Esmailen had gone right up to Stewart and said, “Hello.” For any other man she would just say, “That’s my mother,” and that would be it. No bribes could ever make Esmailen like someone she had not assessed. But for Stewart, Esmailen was different.
This will work, Miguelina thought, as long as my daughter is happy, this will work.
The next day Stewart introduced Miguelina to his mother and father and they were both very happy to see her. There was one problem that lingered on Miguelina’s consciousness; his family didn’t understand her daughter’s name. She kept telling them it was “Esmailen,” but they were convinced that she was saying “smiling.” Other than that, his family was very welcoming towards her and she was so grateful that everything was working out.
They’re all smiling. They’re all so happy to see me.
Looking at Stewart’s family, she started thinking about her family back home; how she missed home. She left her mother, father, and her three brothers back in the Dominican Republic. She thought back about growing up, getting away with anything when her father was home. She always was picking on her brothers and they couldn’t reciprocate as long as their dad was home, but as soon as he left they beat her up. She put needles on their beds every time they snitched on her. The thought brought a smile to her face, but her heart hurt at the thought of leaving her family and starting a new life.
She missed home, but she knew that she made the right decision bringing her daughter to America. From the day Esmailen was conceived, Miguelina knew that her whole life had changed and it no longer revolved around her, but around her daughter. In America, Esmailen would have a good education and be able to start a family of her own eventually; she didn’t have to be afraid that there was no authority to protect her or about being dominated by a man. Miguelina made her decision about leaving her home to move to America, a life she missed, but she knew she made the right choice for her daughter, for Esmailen.