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Cynthia and Nora Carranco posing with American flags at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Tulsa, OK in 2010. Photo source: Nora Carranco

Nora Carranco is among the hundreds of thousands of children who were hoisted into the United States by their parents in their adolescent years. At the age of seven, Nora’s mother made the executive decision to move her and her sister to the U.S. in search of the abundance of opportunities and a better quality of life.

There are many challenges that come with moving to a different country, let alone moving with young children. Approximately 45 million of United States residents are immigrants and Nora is one voice among millions. Her perspective assists that narrative that people are people and race doesn’t decide worth or personality traits. Humans are more alike than they differ.

To move to a country without any prior knowledge and to be thrown into a society in which people of color are scrutinized every day, Nora Carranco proves resilience and great strength. The United States would not be the same cultural melting pot without brothers and sisters of color or different ethnic background. Carranco believes the United States has provided her with many opportunities she would not have had in her home country. This is what makes America so worthwhile. The reasons people move here aren’t to milk the government, but rather to provide their loved ones with opportunities and a life unmatched from any other country.

SS: When did you move to the United States and from where?

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Nora with sister Cynthia at the ages of seven and eight posing for a photo in their new bedroom. Photo source: Nora Carranco

NC: I moved to the U.S. when I was around 7 years old from Ecuador.

SS: What was the reason for the move?

NC: The reason was that my parents had gotten divorced and my mom met my stepfather. My mom realized that there would be better opportunities in the long run for my sister and me. So, she decided to move us here.

SS: Why come to the U.S. and not a bordering country like Argentina or Brazil?

NC: Well, for one, my stepdad is from the U.S. And two, even though we were a lot closer to Brazil or Argentina, the U.S. had a lot more opportunities and they had a lot higher rates of success because of how developed they are/were. I think at that time the U.S. was at a better standing economically than any other country in South America.

SS: There was obviously a language barrier moving from a Spanish speaking country to a majority English speaking country. How did you learn English when you moved? Did you learn it in school or have lessons?

NC: When we moved here we went to a school in Jenks and the teachers had my sister and me go to an English teaching center every day after school for a whole year. They gave us books to practice and slowly we learned English.

SS: Would you say that the transition was really difficult? When you finally went into the general school population, was it hard to transition with new peers?

NC: School wise, it wasn’t too bad. I mean, it was hard because we didn’t know English, but once I started picking up on more things it got better. I was able to make friends, but in general, it wasn’t that hard. Transitioning to the U.S. was hard because it was a totally different environment. I’ve never coped well with big changes or new places, it always takes me a little while to get used to it.

SS: Do you think your difficulty to cope with change started when you moved to the U.S.? Is it a pre-existing personality trait or is it the result of past events?

NC: I think I’ve always been avoidant of change, but it was emphasized when I was brought to a place so foreign to me. I think it could be relative to past events, but I feel like with the whole situation with my parents it was a difficult transition because my parents were having a hard time. So we had to transition a lot. I don’t think it’s just a personality trait.

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Nora with sister, Cynthia, and mother, Norita. Photo taken in Ecuador at their childhood home. Photo source: Nora Carranco

SS: What was life like in Ecuador before you moved if you remember?

NC: I don’t remember a lot of it because I was so little, but I think I was happy. I liked it. I was close to my family and hung out with my cousins a lot. We would hang out and my older cousin would teach us a lot of things. We lived in a small closed neighborhood in Ecuador. There were guards guarding the neighborhood because there’s more crime there. It’s more dangerous. I miss the food.

SS: When did you become a citizen? Can you take me through that process?

NC: I don’t remember exactly when it was. I just remember when my grandma moved after us, she became a citizen and there was a lot of paperwork she had to fill out. She studied for years for the citizenship test and she passed and there was a ceremony. For my sister and me, my mom had gotten married to my stepdad, so we didn’t have to go through the whole process. There was a ceremony and we were given our citizenship diploma, or whatever. I was fortunate that my family didn’t struggle as much as others because I know the process can be physically and financially draining.

SS: What is your quality of life now in comparison to then?

NC: I was too young to really recognize my quality of life back then. Looking back I made observations, but I wasn’t self-aware back then. Now I am more aware of things and social issues. I used to be a lot happier and now I struggle with that. It’s not a bad life. My parents help me out with school and I have a good relationship with my sister.  I have amazing friends and a cute dog named Ella. I feel like my quality of life has changed a lot.

SS: Do you feel like you’ve ever been discriminated against?

NC: Not really. I may have been behind closed doors, but fortunately not that I can recall.

SS: Given the small population of Latino Americans in the state of Oklahoma, at only eight percent, do you feel like it was more difficult to connect with your peers?

NC: It wasn’t hard. I was able to make friends, but I guess sometimes I miss being able to connect with someone outside of American people. But America has a lot of people from a lot of different cultures, so I like that.

SS: How do you celebrate your culture?

NC: I celebrate my culture by speaking Spanish, for sure. I celebrate it by telling people

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Nora Carranco, second from left, gathering with family members in an Oklahoma church in the late months of 2016. Photo source: Facebook/Nora Carranco

I’m from Ecuador every chance I get and by talking about my country. Trying to keep it alive. I cook traditional Ecuadorian dishes and travel back to visit my family when I can.

SS: What are some things you’re really passionate about?

NC: Dogs, 100 percent. I love spending time with my family. I’m passionate about becoming a nurse. I like to write my own stories, but I’ve been struggling with inspiration lately.

SS: Is there a specific demographic you want to help with nursing? I know some people who want to work in underserved or minority communities, is that something that you’re interested in or just nursing in general?

NC: After nursing school, the goal is to work at a hospital in Tulsa as a NICU nurse. Maybe I’ll eventually move on from that. I’m also interested in surgery, so a scrub nurse would be cool. Or a travel nurse.

SS: Would you say you’re passionate about multi-cultural issues in American Society?

NC: Yeah, absolutely. I try to keep up with it, but sometimes it’s hard. I just know I’m totally against the separation of families and the wall is a stupid idea.

SS: If you were to ever encounter someone who was blatantly discriminatory, how would you handle it?

NC: I’d try not to be disrespectful because it’s counterproductive. I’d have someone record it for my safety, but I would stand up for myself. If I don’t stand up for myself, it’s like letting them win and that allows them to do the same to someone else. I’d be respectful, but at the same time not allow them to disrespect me.

SS: What have been the biggest challenges in your life so far?

NC: The biggest challenge was learning English. Now I’m having a hard time staying motivated in school.

SS: Most people have life mottos and words to live by. Do you have anything?

NC: I live by the words of “Cavapoos are adorable and my dog is amazing.”

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Nora poses with dog, Ella, in Oklahoma City in August 2018. Photo source: Nora Carranco

 

 

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