Although it was written just about 30 years ago now, Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss, reaches the best-seller list every year right around graduation time. It's no surprise, because the children's story tells the archetypal truths of growing up, moving out, and embarking upon life's journey on your own. It depicts both the highs and the lows of coming of age, and as children love it for its playful images, meter and rhyme, and nonsense words, adults enjoy it just as much, because even after countless reads, it still pulls on the heartstrings.
So when Audelina, the first emerging bilingual I raised, came by after her graduation ceremony in her cap and gown to show off her diploma, I had to record a bilingual story time of her reading this story to Maya and Mateo.
I actually received this copy of the book from my youth pastor at Ojai Presbyterian Church when I graduate from high school in 2005. All of my friends in the youth group signed it, and when I was a classroom teacher, I used to read it to my students at the end of each school year. Now I feel like I've come full circle, listening to my first adoptive daughter on her graduation day read it to my babies. And I also made sure to give Audelina a new copy of her own, so that she can read it with her own son.
Six years ago, right after we had married and bought a house, my husband, Francisco, and I adopted his youngest half-siblings, Audelina and her older brother, Justo, from Guatemala. They had lost both of their parents, and so as we struggled to start a biological family of our own, we thrust ourselves into a parenting crash-course as we became adoptive parents to two teenagers. They arrived in the US and knew barely any English, so we enrolled them in school, and every day after school I'd work with them as they completed their homework at the kitchen table, helping their language skills develop, and both of them learned English fluently in just two years! Both became permanent legal residents, got their drivers license, got jobs, and slowly acclimated to their new identities as Guatemalan immigrants. Justo graduated from high school in 2018 and now Audelina also has her diploma.
These two young people have had to overcome so much so far, from losing their parents, immigrating to a new country, learning a new language, and finding their place and purpose in the world. I am so proud of their grit, tenacity, and the positivity with which they have faced any obstacle put in front of them.
Please join me in wishing Audelina a hearty congratulations on her accomplishment, and who knows all the places she will go!