Our Moving Stories: Episode 11 — BrayanConversation with: Brayan.
This podcast is hosted by Bruno Villegas.
Brayan describes himself as “a man of two homes.” Born and raised in El Salvador, Brayan’s parents migrated early in his childhood sending regular remittances which provide him the opportunity to attend a private Catholic school. He and his younger brother are raised by their grandparents and uncle and at age 10, Brayan joins his parents in Washington, D.C. where he spent the next twelve years studying.
Upon his arrival to D.C., his family immediately applied for asylum for Brayan. He poignantly describes the frustrations and impatience with backlogs and ever shifting policies under varying presidential administrations. A dozen years later, he is still waiting for his case to be resolved.
Brayan recounts his “big culture shock” as he first arrived to the U.S. In addition to the language shock, he is struck by the distinct experience of coming from “a place where everyone looks the same” to one of such diversity. He describes the Mt. Pleasant migrant community in DC as being helpful in easing his transition and as a space where folks were “looking out for each other.”
Brayan does not allow his liminal status or the “constant fight to prove that we are part of this country” to immobilize him. Though he cannot vote, he knows he and his peers “can contribute to the country and be engaged in the civic process… as mavericks and trail blazers.” During his undergraduate years, he takes a leadership role in beginning a campus organization to raise awareness about, and serve, migrant students. He enters the educational leadership and entrepreneurship program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education with the explicit intent to “open up the world to new ideas … so we can engage in dialogue…[to] make a better world.”