As a child, traveling for miles to cross the Mexican border into Texas was a normal part of current Lorain County Community College student Jesus Arturo Gonzalez Gaytan’s morning routine. Gaytan would wake up at 5 a.m. every morning with his older sister to get ready for school and sit in a mile long line of cars to get through customs.
“The line coming into the U.S. was always miles long, while leaving the U.S. was much quicker and never had any real traffic. I understand that you must go through customs to enter the United States, but I feel they should have an additional line for the students, or at least more officers on duty. From what I can remember there were only a few officers and if they went on break you just kind of had to wait till someone came back,” said Gaytan.
Gaytan grew up in a small town in Mexico called Piedras Negras, which is located near the border of Eagle Pass, Texas. “Most of the time we drove to school, Eagle Pass was only about twenty minutes from my town. We would have to wake up so early though, because crossing the bridge to get through customs everyday took over an hour,” Gaytan said.
The elementary school that Gaytan and his older sister attended was Our Lady of Refuge school. This was a private Christian school that had about 25% of the students attending on Visa’s, just like Gaytan and his sister. This made it easy for carpooling with other students.
“Most of the time my sister and I got to carpool with some of the other students coming from Mexico, like us. There was one month we had to walk though, that was in December. I remember Texas being so hot, even in the winter. Walking would usually be a little quicker because of how bad the traffic was coming into the United States. It was still hard having to walk though because it would take about 30-minutes, and my books were pretty heavy. The heat hurts when it hits you too. The town was right by a river, so it was a very hot and humid kind of heat. I am so glad to be here in Ohio now, I do not like the hot weather after that,” said Gaytan.
Gaytan still had to renew his visa annually. “I get that there are laws when having a visa and it is good to protect everyone, but I wish they would make it a little simpler for students. The process of renewing your visa was so long and tedious, even though they knew who I was. They never made it any easier or treated you any different. You would be at one building for hours just to have to go to another building somewhere else and wait for a long time as well. The process took weeks, maybe even a month just to renew my student visa” Gaytan said.
Overall Gaytan has nothing but positive memories from his experience of going to school in the U.S. while living in Mexico at the same time. “My parents are the real heroes here. I just went to school like everyone else. They are the ones who woke up at 4 a.m. everyday and made sure we got to school on time,” Gaytan said.
Gaytan continues to put his education before anything else because he remembers how much work he and his family had to endure. “To this day I work very hard for my studies. When I got into middle school is when my family and I moved here to Ohio. My dad got a job and an apartment and we became citizens. They built their lives around getting my sister and I a better education, so I have never really slacked off because of it,” Gaytan said.
Gaytan is now in his second year at LCCC and he currently works on campus at the international student office. “I really like my job on campus, I answer phone calls and take messages. I’ll make copies and do any filing that is needed,” said Gaytan.
MaryBeth Yates is the project coordinator for the international student office, and she encourages international students to come and stop by anytime with questions or concerns they may have. “Here at the international student office we help students from overseas adjust to life on campus. We will help them with anything from their schedules, to finding their way around the college, paperwork, etc. We definitely encourage international students to apply, but we will of course hire any student. It helps if the applicant is bilingual because most students from overseas speak other languages,” Yates said.
LCCC currently enrolls students from 29 different countries and welcomes students holding an immigrant or non-immigrant status. The international student office is located on campus right next to the student life desk across from the student senate. They can be reached by phone : 440-366-4929 or via fax: 440-366-4213