Dani is the only member of her family born in the US, and therefore the only one who can travel freely. She is nine years old.
Last summer I went to Ecuador for five weeks by myself to visit my family there. I met them by video chat first. I went to Ecuador after my grandma came here for my first communion, when she styed with us for three weeks. That visit was the first time I had met her.
When I arrived in Ecuador, first I stayed at my aunt’s in Guayaquil. I felt strange because I never seen their house in pictures before. It was this big house in a gated community with guards, I didn’t think they had this lifestyle in Ecuador. And when I saw my grandparents house I was surprised because I didn’t think they were going to be big, but they were. I thought they were very pretty. I didn’t have a picture in my head of what Ecuador looked like. I liked it there, it was a good, small place because all of my family lived there.
It was my first time away from home, and the first three days I cried and said I want to come home, I didn’t want to be away from my parents and sisters. But at the end I wanted to stay longer. I was happy to be with my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and to meet all my cousins.
Angie and Maria always tell how when they were little they didn’t wait for our mother or grandmother to make food, they made it themselves.
I like hearing the stories Angie and Maria tell me about when they were little and lived in Ecuador because I am able to learn more about my family. I learned that Maria and Angie lived with my grandma for a couple of years while my parents worked in the United States. It makes me sad to hear that because they were away from our parents for years while I get to spend every day with them. I would feel sad if it happened to me. But I know my grandma helped my sisters stay strong because she’s like our second mother. I do like hearing stories about our parents working here because it helps me understand what they sacrificed for us to give us opportunities and a better life.
Portraits of People on the Move tells the stories of Philadelphia-area immigrants through their own words on the Supperdance.com blog and was first shown as an exhibition June 25–28, 2015, at the Gray Area of Crane Arts in Philadelphia. The exhibition was created as a companion work to Supper, People on the Move by Cardell Dance Theater, a dance inspired by themes of migration.