What is Your Illuminated Identity?
My name is Yaquelin Rodriguez. I am 18 years old and currently live in Chicago’s Southwest side. I was part of the original team that traveled to Mexico City as part of a pilot program in December 2012. I’ve since witnessed the impact Illuminated has had on kids in the South Bronx, New York where I was a student panelist for an event about heroism. I currently serve on Illuminated Cities Project’s Advisory Board.
I have been greatly impacted by Illuminated. Traveling to Mexico helped me understand why it is my people flee that country. I saw the forgotten and broken there. I met kids who want to learn but can’t afford books or travel expenses, I saw how corrupt Mexico truly is, I saw how manipulative and deceitful the media is. But, I also met amazing people who work day in and day out trying to make a difference. This experience has helped me realize why my people take the shitty jobs offered to them in the United States. It helped me understand why people risk their lives trying to cross the border. I came to the sudden realization that they have nothing to lose but so much to gain. I saw how much heart my people have. We will risk it all to put some bread on the table. We will risk getting shot at by Border Patrol, we will risk getting deported, we will risk getting dehydrated trying to cross the desert, we will risk getting robbed, we will risk drowning, and we will risk our lives if means providing a better life for our loved ones.
How do you want to be remembered as a part of America’s fabric?
I want to be remembered as a happy individual. Someone who was always smiling.