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The Paw Print

The Student News Site of Wilde Lake High School

The Paw Print

The Student News Site of Wilde Lake High School

The Paw Print

Zulma Aguilar, 12th grade, El Salvador

Zulma Aguilar (center) and her two sisters in El Salvador. Zulma’s younger sister stayed in El Salvador while her and her older sister moved to America.
Zulma Aguilar
Zulma Aguilar (center) and her two sisters in El Salvador. Zulma’s younger sister stayed in El Salvador while her and her older sister moved to America.

Senior Zulma Aguilar’s life in El Salvador was completely thrown off when her family began to receive death threats. Her family decided the best thing they could do was immigrate to America.

When Zulma was 10, she walked to school with her older sister. On their walks to school, they were continually harassed by a local gang.

“[The man in the gang] wanted my older sister as a girlfriend. My sister and I would distance ourselves, but they followed us,” she said. “It reached a point of death threats towards my family.”

The director of Zulma’s school wrote a letter so that she and her sister could move to America.

Zulma departed from the only life she had ever known.

She left her younger sister, her mom, and her grandma at home while she and her older sister traveled to America on foot, car, and bus.

When Zulma reached Maryland, she didn’t know any English. “Everything was new for me and overwhelming at the same time,” she said.

Now, after seven years in America, Zulma strongly identifies with her Salvadorian culture. She says the greater part of her identity is still in El Salvador, as she “misses” the country dearly.

Zulma says she is proud of where she comes from because of its “beauty.”

“[El Salvador] is beautiful in its culture and its people as well,” she said.

The violence that forced her to leave El Salvador has begun to resolve, according to Zulma. Now, the country is even more beautiful. “I used to see it as a very dangerous place because there were a lot of gangs,” she said, “but thanks to our president, Nayib Bukele, it has changed a lot.”

Because of the improvement in regard to violence, Zulma wishes she could return to El Salvador. “If I could, I would return to my country, but I want to pursue a career here,” said Zulma.

After seven years in the ESOL program, Zulma does not currently take ESOL classes herself, but acts as an assistant teacher for the ESOL 1 students at Wilde Lake.

Zulma describes her life in America as a “great opportunity.” She hopes newly immigrated teens view their lives the same way.

“I would say to those who recently immigrated here to take advantage of the opportunities others don’t have,” she said.

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