where i'm from  

fabrine de oliveira




They assumed I was Hispanic. Was it because my hair was curly one day and straight the next? Or was it because they saw my body before they saw who I was: a young lady? If I was given the proper chance to talk before they jumped to conclusions, I would have told them where I was from and they could’ve learned something new.

Where I’m from, rice, beans, and meat are a traditional meal. During lunch and dinner, the three dishes are always on my plate in small portions, each served hot.

Where I’m from, we are mistaken for Hispanic and our language is automatically changed to Spanish before we get the opportunity to introduce ourselves as Brazilians. Where I’m from, Portuguese was my first language. My mom and dad don’t speak English well and can only whisper the basics: "please", "thank you", "my name is", and "my address is." I often fear they won’t convey their needs effectively to others. I worry they won’t be able to defend themselves due to their language barriers, but the reality is that my parents work so much. Whenever I offer to help, they both respond, "Agora não, Fabrine. Estou cansada. Trabalhei o dia inteiro." (Not now, Fabrine. I am tired. I worked the whole day.)

Where I’m from, my community lives in fear of deportation. They come from their country in hopes of reaching the American Dream, but are quick to discover that once they arrive, they face the hindrance of being undocumented. My sister and I are so fortunate to have a status. Our parents remind us of this every single day. I always wonder how a piece of paper can make a difference in someone’s life because it does change how they live, where they live, and the places they can go.

Where I’m from, my mother comes home with bleached clothes from cleaning other people’s homes. The smell is so strong that I know it’s her knocking on the door before I even open it. The smell of Clorox arrives a few seconds before she does, floating through the crack between the bottom of the door and the floor.

Where I’m from, my father wakes up at 5:00am and returns when the sun meets the moon. His dirty construction boots tell me he is home. I don’t see him often, though he is always there. When he gets up, I am probably in my fifth dream. By the time I come home from work, he’s already off to bed, reenergizing for the next morning. All I see are his boots by the front door steps and that alone brings me comfort. I might not see him, but I feel his presence and I’ve learned to be okay with that.


Fabrine De Oliveira is a freshman Business major and a Human Resources Management Minor. She has a strong personality mixed with a tad bit of sass.