Wake Up and Remember

Tags: juan

Posted on February 6, 2010 by juan | Post a comment

From Perry, Fl.


Every morning I wake up and have to remind myself why I am doing this.


“Why are you getting up at 6am for the sixth day in a row to walk 18 miles?”


“Why do you keep going, even when it rains, when your feet are in pain, when your legs are tired?”


“Why do you stay up late at night when you know you’re tired simply to write a blog?”


Its important, at every step of this process to reflect on the reasons about why I have done this. Why I left school, work, family, community… EVERYTHING, to walk nonstop for four months… and it always comes back to people’s stories.


I wake up at 6am because I know that nearly every day in Immokalee, Fl (like in many other places around the country), a farm worker is getting up from his bed in his trailer that he shares with 10 people, in order to pay the monthly $1000 rent bill, when none of them make even minimum wage.


I keep walking because once, a young man named Robby went door by door in his neighborhood asking for help with tuition money until he was able to come up with enough to cover at least a single class at out-of-state tution costs, simply because he couldn’t qualify for financial aid.


I walk because in some sacred part of my being I grew to believe that “God” was in the rain, and the waters that wash down my face and over my body with each step are a reminder of the many waters our people have had to traverse in coming here, sometimes never making it through the gale, sometimes drowning just miles from the much awaited shore after a terrible storm.


I walk with the pain because I understand completely that I do not understand AT ALL what it really means to have risked my life crossing a national border, and I am privileged to the extent that my family was able to afford a ticket to fly me here; the privilege to be granted a visa for our entry and departure; the privilege to hold my body upright on two feet when this alone is a feat in some people’s wildest dreams.


I wake up in the morning to think of the people who gave me the strength to even make it here:

  • A young, brilliant scientist and mathematician that could be a phenomenal engineer if only MIT would not judge him on a basis of his immigration status. If only it gave him a single chance.
  • Carlos, who spent the longest time (when I first met him) taking multiple buses, metros and trains in a three to five hour commute each way from work nearly every day, just so that he could be a single step closer to his dream of completing his higher education and succeeding as an architect.
  • A young woman named Angela who slaves away cleaning various people’s houses so that she could help to provide to her brother while also trying to move her career another step closer to designing one of those very homes.
  • A young woman named Maria, living in Venezuela, who was taken from her passion to fulfill her educational aspirations in this country, but is committed to NEVER give up on her dreams.


I also think of the things I have been hearing along this journey:


“I stayed here because I believed… that despite the fact that I have worked here for 6 years without any overtime wages or vacation, and the fact that I step out of my home every morning with the fear that I may not return… I still believe there is a potential for this country to be better than this: for this country to stand by and uphold its values like a torch –that it may illuminate all the places where our people have been living within the shadows without ever being given an opportunity or a voice."



I do it for those who have touched my life so profoundly along this jouney.


I do it for those reading my blog in the privacy of their own homes seeking some sliver of hope.


I do it for those who we have lost and have died working for change and believing with all of their hearts and souls that our human dignity is something that is never to be handed over and that no individual should ever have the right to make us feel insignificant.


Kudos to all counties that have realized, are aware of, and are proud to proclaim the countributions and value of immigrants, who have helped to sustain this country and provide is with reliable produce that keeps us all healthy and alive.


I dedicate this to Jesus, who had his body sliced into two by workplace machinery and died… waiting for congress to give the slightest priority to immigration reform –for his life, work, and dreams will NEVER be in vain.


-Juan Rodriguez

Trail of DREAMs

Leave a comment:


Posted by: Adam on Feb. 6, 2010, 11:17 p.m.

This trial of dreams is truly a silver of hope for all of us. Please carry on with pride, dignity, and honor. Thank you for taking a lead.

Posted by: Favianna Rodriguez on Feb. 7, 2010, 11:05 p.m.

Awesome Juan!

Posted by: Gabriela Mejia on Feb. 11, 2010, 1:44 p.m.

It is the thought of your struggle and hard work that give me the strenght to wake up every morning. It is your strict advices for SWER that make me want to do even better for the sake of us all. I love you Juan and I'll see you there May 1st

Posted by: WP Themes on March 12, 2010, 4:48 a.m.

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Posted by: Cecilia Albornoz on March 14, 2010, 5:34 p.m.

I feel very proud of you Juan, we love and admire you and your friends Carlos,Felipe and Gaby. KIsses Cecilia, Marshall, Diana and Lina