It was eight A.M on a regular Thursday, I headed to my English class as usual. Once I got there we were suppose to discuss an article, but as always, we drifted off to talk about the recent armed robbery on UNT’s campus. Once the robbers were caught it was discovered that it was just another drug deal gone wrong. Most students expressed that they, “did not feel safe anymore.” Whether they were going out for runs at night or walking through the square, the fear tied to this robbery would follow them. But as each student raised their hands to discuss their safety, I couldn’t help but think of my home and the safety that is threatened each day in Venezuela.
I am, as some would say, a newbie in everything American. I have only been here for a year and a half, yet there is so many things I’ve had to get used to, as any immigrant would have to do. Really, after this class the only think I could think of was the word “safety,” and what it means to each one of us, and what it meant to me.
Although, I did not raise my hand as my classmates shared their opinions. I did have a lot to say about feeling safe on campus and in Denton. But I was unable to find the right words to explain why I thought their fear was irrational and honestly, quiet exaggerated. I knew, my saying this, would come out wrong (it probably still is). The reasons for not being safe in Denton made no sense to me, because back in my country all Venezuelans rights and safety are violated at least once a day. The shortage of basic goods is greater every single day.
As stated in this article, “Venezuela food crisis deepens as shipments plummet” by CNN: “Venezuelans wait in lines outside supermarkets often for hours only to find empty shelves. It’s hard to find bread, eggs and other basic items”.
It’s not only dying of hunger, which really shows the bad management of the government, but the crime rate has increased yearly. The New York Times reported “27,875 killings” last year, and that is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s hard for me to think the place that I call home to be one of the most dangerous places to live. I have known more people and families who had been kidnapped and killed than I wish to know. It’s hard to watch your back and be cautious when you step out of your house, because that is just the mentality you need to have to assure no bad things happen to you.
We’ve learned to live that way, we Venezuelans have remained optimistic through it all because that’s in our culture: to make the best out of horrible situations. However, I still felt lucky. For everything I had, a house, a good family, I went to a decent school. It’s more than most people get in countries with a worse situation. We complain about our lives in some sort of way.
So, what does safety means to me? Safety is having enough food in your pantry to last a month. Safety is being able to walk outside of your house without being robbed fifteen seconds later. Feeling safe is being able to drive at night to your house without getting kidnapped. That is safety for me.
My classmates thought that Denton was becoming dangerous, but who am I to say that this is not accurate to their life? They’ve lived in a country where people from my country would kill to live in.
There is no right answer when it comes to safety, but we do have to put ourselves in each other’s shoes. You may think your living situation is bad, but maybe somewhere, someone in the world would trade places with you without hesitance. I was lucky that I came to the United States to have a better life and feel safe, but my time in Venezuela made me appreciate everything, every day.