Interviewee: Ljuvica Kolich
Interviewed by: Katie Stokes
"My place, my town.
It was said to be believed that it wasn't going to get any better.
I expected my new home to be more of a paradise than it actually let on to be."
I saw one a few months before I came to the Us. It’s not a pet back in Peru, so many of the upper class people love to eat it. My grandmother used to make it all the time. I had never seen it before because everyone used to cute it up for me, so I was in for a shock. It was on my mothers plate when I set my eyes on it: I never wanted to eat it again. Now, Guinea Pig may be a delicacy back in my Peru, but in my mind it was still an animal that had its little claws and head on a decorated plate. Before I saw the whole body, it tasted really good, but I never want to eat or look at it again.
As a little girl, the greatest place in the world was Lima, Peru. My place, my town. You could say that it needed a lot of cleaning, but to me it was an Eden. Cockroaches, they were the disgusting inhabitants of the city. I’m not lying when I say that anyone could walk down a street and there are a hundred roaches waiting to attack you. Like in all cities there are certain places that I would never want to leave, and there are places that I would never want to enter. Most of Lima was filled with freshly looking paved streets, towering blooming trees, and blossoming flowers that gave a sweet aroma. But the small area that engulfed the city, was a place so different from the other part of the town. All along the streets random dogs and chickens roamed around, I couldn’t help but laugh at this sight. The roads were unpaved and packed with dirt; children ran and played, some without shirts, like it was their own slice of heaven. As I watched the little children with a gloom in my eye, I felt anguished as I watched them play. The less wealthy people wore what they could afford, some couldn’t afford any clothing at all, while others had enough to go to a Good Will. My family and many others that had money put good use to it and dressed formally every day. At a young age I learned that the clothing people wore told others what social standing they were at. When I was little, I was taught to be respective, to everyone of every social standing, so I soon became attached to many. In Peru, when I became good friends with a person, they weren’t just some random body, but they evolved into my newly extended family and we became as close as siblings. It’s just the Peruvian way.
I was raised in a place, where etiquette and education were a big part of my life. My mother taught me to be sweet and share. I was an only child, so my mother wanted to instill some unselfishness in me so that I wouldn’t grow up to be greedy. My childhood was filled with beautiful memories, I cannot recall any memory from Peru that I did not enjoy. I was a very optimistic child. Most of the memories that I have revolve around the beach, because I lived in an ocean front house. I would spend all of my days there with my friends, starting at ten in the morning till seven at night. Other than the beach excursions, my family had many a party that would make me bright with delight. My parents would throw parties that would last until five, the next morning. What was great about the parties was that, when the adults arrived they brought their children with them, and we would all play together, it was a blast. Like most children, I had a lot of hobbies. I danced mainly but I also did basketball, theater, gymnastics, and of course I played with my dolls. I was a very busy child.
When I was ten years old, I took my first plane ride to the United States. A place that was my summer vacationing spot, but would soon turn into my new home. The huge plane was like a toy store for me, everything was new and exciting. It was my first time on a plane so I didn’t know what to expect. I was sitting by the window looking out as I left Peru, not knowing that I wouldn’t have any memories take place in “my spots” for quite a while. I don’t remember any movies playing, but I do recall making fun of the pilot. It was my first time on a plane, but I knew that the plane shouldn’t have been shaking like the way it was. I mean was it his first day on the job? They called it “Political Asylum.” That’s the reason my parents decided to make me stay in the United States after three months of vacationing here. Back in Peru, terrorists harassed many wealthy families, because they had so much while others had so little. Both of my parents owned a business and a factory, so of course we took the hit from the monstrous people. They invaded my family’s land and let the lower class build their homes on property that was soon to be theirs. We tried many a times to evict the people but no method seemed to work. My father sued them, and the vigorous case went all the way to the supreme court. The invaders didn’t budge and seemed unaffected by the mere disturbance. Our next plan of attack was through the military and local enforcement. A squad of Lima police went trotting up to the terrorists and poor people, stated that they must leave immediately. When the intruders heard the news, the started to heave rocks at the police. This method crumbled, and unfortunately it was the last. My father’s friend, a general in the army, said that it was in our best interest if we leave. It was said to be believed that it wasn’t going to get any better.
I expected my new home to be more of a paradise than it actually let on to be. Everyone back in Peru only knew the United States for it stereotypes, Disney Land, white people, a land of opportunities, and everyone is rich like Oprah Winfrey. But I didn’t let any of these stereotypes make up my mind of my new abode. I noticed that there were many similarities and differences in everyday life between the United States and Peru. The private catholic school I attend had a great education, it was more advanced, and was very difficult. When I first came to The States, I noticed that most of the people consumed fast food. Back in Peru people ate mostly home cooked meals, fast food wasn’t appealing. It was unhealthy and expensive, the food was made of higher quality. When I arrived, I thought that American moms aren’t as sweet, and close to their children as Peruvian mothers are. The mothers between my two countries differ in many topics especially over raising their children.
Adjusting to a foreign place isn’t easy, but I learned the way of the trades very fast. The most difficult thing my family encountered was communicating with people. I soon caught onto the English language. It took three months to understand what people were saying, and six months to join in on the conversation. Fifth grade was a huge year for me, I learned English from some “ABC” videos, my friends showing and interpreting myself things I would need to know later on, and just being in an English-speaking environment really helped. Going through these struggles my family grew closer, because we had to unite. We (my family) were all we had in the United States. After I jumped over the hurdles, I felt accomplished and somewhat empty. If I could bring any thing to America that was still back in Peru, I would bring all of my servants. Not because of wanting to be waited on, but because they were like my second mother. I would have to bring my friends and family back also, just because I miss them so. And of course I can’t forget about my wonderful beaches, because the ones in here (in the United States) suck, they are ice cold. Two more years, that’s all I need to get permission to go back. My beautiful Peru will have to wait for me.
People learn new things everyday, sometimes without even knowing it. From moving to the United States I learned that people are different. Different by their looks, personalities and customs. And also that stereotypes aren't always true. You can’t always take one’s opinion and disregard your own. You have to brave your new world, even if it frightens you. Because my family and I took a big step forward. We made friends, and we made a place for ourselves, in our new home. Peru will always be my home, but for now, it’s “The Bay Area. My place, my town.