immigration sound byte - postscript

i accompanied erick to horizon academy at rikers island last thursday to help the young men practice reading their pieces out loud and to establish the reading order, etc. this was the first time i had spent any extended amount of time in the bilingual class. there were about ten young men in there whose average age seemed to be 20 years old. i pulled a chair and sat next to a young man wearing knee length jean shorts and a black t-shirt. i'll call him david - it was the name he said that he would have chosen for himself because there were already too many people in his family with his given first name.
david smiled briefly in my direction, shifted his feet slightly, and resumed his conversation with his classmate sitting next to him. after several minutes, david and i began talking. the following is a list of notables that i learned during our conversation:
  • arrived at rikers two months ago
  • arrived in the united states three years ago
  • is awaiting sentencing on a plea he just agreed to so that he can serve out his sentence before being deported back to the dominican republic.
my face must have registered my disbelief at this last point because david laughed quietly, shook his head, and said the thing that was going through my head, "can you believe that shit?"

the following day, david read for tito who was not present for the reading. it was clear that he had practiced and as he uttered the following words, i could almost see him writing them himself.

david, reading for tito:
"Advice comes from experiences that the person giving it to you already had, supposing a person that gives you advice already through those experiences or has seen then and doesn't want you to have to go through the same thing.
A lot of times I didn't follow the advice, but I did listen. But I didn't change, or I might for a month or so and then go back to doing the same things. ...
I don't want anyone to do the same things I've done, it's no good - look at where I am now. Do you understand the advice I'm giving?"

1 comment:

td said...

i got chills when i read this. looking forward to the readings tomorrow.