A Dominicana’s Guide to Surviving a PWI

Immersed, Abigail Nasar

Mami… todos son gringos.

You arrive. Take in the brick buildings decorated by fresh-cut grass and towering trees before you take in how much heavier your skin feels here. You will learn what it feels like to be the only drop of color in the pale canvas of your classroom, and the truth settles in: it would take a miracle to make this place your home. For the first few weeks you will lock yourself in the cubicle you call a dorm–four muted walls trying to fit your anxiety into fifty square feet. What the fuck did you just do? You FaceTime Mami. You lie and reassure her, “Si, todo bien.” You fill the silence with thoughts you wish would spill from your mouth, but you swallow them. You are living Mami’s wildest dream, how could you tell her you won’t make it come true? “Siempre pa’lante mija, siempre pa’lante,” she reminds you. 

Excited to see a glimpse of yourself, you sign up for a Latin American Politics course and witness a white man butcher your culture and drag it by its own limbs. You will ignore it until the screech of chalk on the board feels like an itch on your third layer of skin. Hesitantly, you look up as he writes, “American intervention is needed in Latin America.” You lock eyes with the only other Latina in the room, united in your alienation. Your gaze begs, “Get us out of here.” She promptly returns to her notes, you return to the endless flow of emails in your inbox instead. No one saves either of you–here, you will have to save yourselves.

About the Author

Coral Bello-Martinez · Franklin and Marshall College

Coral Bello-Martinez is a proud queer Dominicana raised in Harlem and the Bronx, NY by her mother and grandmother. Bello-Martinez writes with an emphasis on identity and filial relationships, striving to emphasize the plurality and interconnectedness of the experiences of brown folks. She is a 2020 graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, and now resides in St. Louis, MO serving as an educator through Teach for America.

Her work has been recognized in The Adroit Journal, Oakland Arts Review and Cornell University’s Rainy Day magazine.

About the Artist

Abigail Nasari · Hope College

Abigail Nasari is a third-year student from Tanzania currently studying at Hope College as a studio arts major. Most of her work centers around the realistic portrayal of the people and objects that surround her through painting and drawing. Art Instagram: @abin.art2

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