June 12, 2021

Humans of Gordon: Yamilla Mateo

by Cheyenne Roberts 23' - Arts & Life Editor

My motto in life is “fall in love with learning.” In elementary school, I was always in ESL (English as a Second Language). I remember being taken out of Fun Friday and other fun activities because it was such a bad thing to speak another language. 

Then in the fifth grade, I remember they told me that I graduated from the program. That was a great accomplishment for me because I finally knew my worth. Speaking another language– Spanish, wasn’t shameful anymore, it was what made me stronger. 

I identify as Afro-Latina. Having that African side of me, but also that Latino side is something that I make sure to embrace together. It’s a story I always carry with me so I can embrace myself when it comes to learning like I learned the English language. 

Instead of just learning, I try to apply the learning. I ask myself, what do I do with what I’ve learned? So I take each challenge as a challenge. I find takeaways in every obstacle in life, like English was an obstacle. In sharing what I’ve learned with other people, and not just keeping it to myself, I hope to inspire others with my knowledge, so that they can grow to their full potential. I like to learn alongside them. 

I’ve learned to accept and not be ashamed of what my past is. Instead, I’m trying to let that light shine, because I want to be the voice for the unheard. I want to make sure that people are acknowledged because I feel that when you stop falling in love with learning, especially about others, you die spiritually, mentally, it can even affect you physically. I ask: how can I keep learning from my experiences? I make sure to apply that every single day. 

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