I feel like The Bronx is made for me to live in.
I’d like to introduce everyone to Gaby. She is the first Bronxite to be featured in this new Sunday special which allows the world at large to become acquainted with actual, real life folks who live in The Bronx, New York—the only borough of New York City connected physically to the mainland United States. [NOTE: Light editing has occurred for ease of reading but all of Gaby’s words below were indeed spoken by her.]
Gaby is a leader in her senior class and is one month away from graduating from a public high school in The Bronx.
When did your family come to The Bronx?
My stepdad has lived here for 35 years, I believe. He went back to my country and decided to marry my mom. So, when they got married, it was easier for us to come back here, because then you had to do the papers for us, for my sister and me. Then it took three months for us to come here.
And it was hard because I always lived with my grandparents and my mom, so it was kind of difficult for me to leave. So, we came here in 2008. And by that time it was already cold. And the day after we came here, it had started to snow. And I was already freezing to death. And I was like, “What am I doing here? What is this white stuff coming out of the sky?!”
So, it was really difficult for me, to like, get used to living here. Every day I would cry, I don’t want to be here and stuff. And then I didn’t know anything, no English or nothing; not even “hello” or nothing. It was hard for me; really tough.
And so you moved to The Bronx directly from Honduras?
Yes…moving from a country that…is so different. The weather, it’s always hot there and here it has different seasons. So, I didn’t know what it was. In the news and in the movies you see those beautiful places…”Okay, I want to go there.” But when you’re actually there you’re like, “No, I don’t want to be here no more.”
What are one or two favorite memories you have from living in The Bronx?
I would say my childhood, mostly middle school. I made friends and they actually teach me to, you know, be a good American. And in sixth grade, I was in an all-girls class; so it was tough for me. And it was the worst thing. Even their own teacher tried to put the girls down, for some reason. And that’s when I started to…make little talks to girls and give them advice. And people would come up to me and I was like, “Oh, it seems like people like what I say, like what I tell them to do–in a good way.” I felt like at that moment, maybe I can be something else. Maybe I can talk to people and give them advice.
So, when you hear “The Bronx”–what thought comes to mind?
[Gaby laughs] One word that comes to my mind is HOME. I only went back to my country two times. And when I go to my country, I don’t feel like I’m home. I feel like I’m missing something. And when I come here, I’m like–“I’m finally home.” And I feel like over there it’s not as safe as it is here. Even though (there are shootings), I feel like here I can be free. I feel like if I go to Manhattan–it’s different. Queens–it’s different. I feel like The Bronx is for me; made for me to live in…forever.
People have certain stereotypes about The Bronx–“Oh, it’s so dangerous”–What would you say about it?
I think they’re just wrong about, because they’re outside of it. As long as you live here you know that it’s completely different. Even though there’s some crimes, it depends on where you live and how you live. Because let’s say, if you’re the son of a drug dealer, then you’re not safe because there’s going to be stuff going on. But if you live like normal–you go to school, you go to work–then you’re not going to be in danger. You’re doing your thing and you’re not part of the bad stuff that happens.
Gaby will be attending John Jay College in the fall.