“Ever since I was twelve years old, my mom wanted to bring us to America. She said we’d be able to reach our goals faster. At first she came alone. In Peru she had a nice government job, but here she mopped floors and washed cars. It took forever to get our papers because she wanted to bring us over legally. There were so many times she told me to get ready—but then it fell through. I started to think it would never happen. But then one year ago she called me and said it was time. I left my whole life behind. That first winter was so depressing. I had to break up with my boyfriend. I didn’t know anyone here. My English was suck. I had my own bedroom in Peru, but here I had to share a room with three people. I spent so much time crying. I watched a lot of anime. Even my cat wouldn’t play with me because she’s not very friendly. But finally in March I found a job at a restaurant, and things began to turn around. My coworkers became like family. My manager Alizee is the most amazing person I’ve ever met. And the guys in the kitchen help me with my English. There’s a gym nearby, and after work I’ve been taking jiu-jitsu classes. It’s helped me a lot. There’s one position called guard, and as long as you can keep your guard up—you’ll be alright. I feel like I’m finally in control. This morning I paid for a whole semester of classes. Last year was about surviving. But this year I have goals. The first one is to get better at jiu-jitsu.”
Andy Gonzalez is a coach at Aces Jiu Jitsu Club. He has earned his purple belt under Professor Mikal Abdullah. Follow Andy on Twitter at @GoGoGonzilla
Andy lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Amanda and their 3 beautiful children. Andy is also the father of a Marine who is honorably serving in the United States Marine Corps.