Running with Opportunity

Baseball might be considered America’s pastime, but it also captured the heart of one small boy growing up in rural Mexico. From an early age, Aniceto followed his team, the Boston Red Sox, eagerly waiting to see whether each week would bring a win or a loss.
He says, “These famous people, I thought I wanted to be like them, but I only read about them. I never played baseball. You couldn’t hit a baseball [in my town] because it would land in someone else’s land.”

Instead of playing baseball, Aniceto found other ways to spend his time. His mother and father were farmers, and he grew up helping with the daily chores. He made his own toys out of wood or straw. His favorite memory, however, is the day the first bicycle appeared in his town.

He recalls, “In a small town, nobody had a bike. But a lot of people move to Mexico City and give away their stuff. Someone left this bike, and my brothers told me to go play with it. It was big. My feet couldn’t reach the pedals. All the time I fell down. I scraped my feet and knees a lot, but I thought it was great.”

As an adult, Aniceto, “never in a million years,” thought he would leave Mexico, but a friend who had moved to Minnesota told him it was a nice place. He says, “I didn’t want to farm anymore. I didn’t have a nice job or place to live. So I thought I would try it. [When I got here] I had no money, no English. I didn’t even have my friend. He moved back to Mexico. It was hard then, but I’ve been here 20 years now. It’s easy now.”

For 10 years, Aniceto worked cleaning and collecting recycling in an office building downtown. The job was very physical and didn’t pay well. He says, “It was seven dollars an hour. I couldn’t afford rent and food for a living.” So when one of the people at his work offered him a job, he jumped at the opportunity. He does things like buy groceries, clean the house, pick kids up from school, and walk the dog. The work has even expanded to several different families.

Aniceto’s change in work is part of the reason he decided to take classes at the ELC. In his previous jobs, he worked with other Spanish speakers. Now he wants to better communicate with the English-speaking families who hire him. Of course, after two decades in the U.S., Aniceto’s already picked up a lot of English. He entered directly into our most advanced English class. It’s not the first time he’s been here either. “In 2005, I was here for two months but didn’t have time for school so I stopped. Twelve years, no school. But since last fall, I’m here. They welcomed me back.”

Outside of school and work, Aniceto enjoys keeping busy. In the summer, he grows much of his own food in his vegetable garden. He tends to his two chickens who provide him with eggs. On weekends, he enjoys fixing his car and, of course, watching his beloved Red Sox.

In the end, Aniceto simply wants to live a good life. He explains, “[Some people] say I’m here because I’m a drug addict or sell drugs. This is what they say about the Mexican people. I am not like this. All people should have nice lives and education. All people in any country.”