Esmarlin Fernandez and Alondra Flores interview Maria Polanco - part 1
Bronx Senior Storytellers - Maria Polanco - part 1 of 3
Maria: I was born in the Dominican Republic. I’m from the city Santiago de los 30 Caballeros. I’ve been living here for about 35 years and I’ve been working here in the Bronx about 20 years as a accountant and my degree is in accounting.
Alondra: Wow that’s good. So how old were you when you moved here?
Maira: I was about 23.
Alondra: Wow you were young. So I’m assuming you had a different education from like Dominican Republic than here right?
Maria: Yeah. I did my bachelor's degree... Let me go back I started with the other college so I did 2 years over there so I moved here I went to Hostos Community College I had my associate's degree in accounting. So in the middle I have my two children. I have my 2 daughters: Denise the oldest she will be 33 on the 27th and my other one is the youngest Shirley she's going to be 26. So I stopped a little bit then went back to Lehman College I had my bachelor's degree in accounting, I graduated in 1998, 1997 and I started working here in 1998.
Alondra: Wow that’s very eventful
Maria: Oh yeah. I have so you can say the American dream.
Alondra: The American dream wow.
Maria: Yes I do have it because I came in with that to pursue that I wanna to have my degree so I don’t want to work in a factory, no no no.
Esmarlin: So did you came here because you wanted to have an education?
Maria: No I came because I got married so my husband brought me here, but the agreement with him was that I wanna stay in D.R. until I finish my college. He said yes yes we got married so a year after he said uh uh “I don’t want to stay here by myself” so you have to come here, and that’s why I came here and I stayed.
Esmarlin: Yeah but I find that very interesting the way you came here you pursue your dreams you know you went to college so there’s like some people that come here and they don’t really do anything they work in factories I am not offending nobody yeah but I think that is great that you went to college you got your degree and all that like that’s the reason I came here too because wanted to study high school and like I want to continue.
Maria: That's the thing if you have a dream follow your dream because nobody can stop your dream only you. God gave you the opportunity to be in America, you have a great opportunity. At that time they paid me all my college. I had a loan, a student loan but I had the student loan to buy a house in Dominican Republic but the government paid me all my education. So I started until I graduated. I graduated from Hostos then I said no I want to go to my bachelor, then I did my bachelors. So that’s the way I suggested to my 2 daughters. The best thing in life is to have your college degree, because after you be educated you can have everything you want. When you’re educated you can work, when you’re working you can discover travel. I like to travel. I have my vacation every year, I travel all over.
I was also leader for the organization, I don’t know if you know it, Acorn. Acorn is a community organization to fight for social justice. I was president, I was national delegate, I was national vice-president, I did it for 20 years, voluntary work. I travel all over, I interviewed all the politicians about education and housing and everything cause I came here to learn and I learned a lot. I only not sit down to learn accounting I have all the things that I’m able to be doing, and have a dream that I’m capable to do multiple tasks. And also I’m managing the building that I live in for 18 years. I’m the president for the building, I do all from A to Z for that building. Cause after I get out from coming here, I manage the building on 2 days, Wednesdays and Saturdays. After here I continue to do the work because I see that the city wants to sell the building and in order to hold down the building somebody have to take care of the building so I said “I can do it” and until that time I’ve been doing it.
Maria: If you have a dream and you’re capable and you educated yourself, you have everything you want. You can travel like me, I think about my vacation every year I go on a cruise, I went to all the places I wanted. My best trip, god forbid, it was to Paris, because I wanted to go to Paris. Because I worked for that, I saved my money for my vacation. So if that's your dream and it's to travel, I suggest when you are younger have a dream and educate yourself. If you educate yourself you have everything you want. You can cover yourself, you have the money. I had a teacher, my 4th grade teacher, that encouraged me and that’s what I’m giving to you, she said “if you wanna travel like me” she had all the souvenirs, and that’s what I keep on my mind. She had a souvenir from all the places that she travelled, she had a souvenir. She go to her house, and that's what I carry with me. She said “if you wanna travel like me, educate yourself” and that’s what I’m doing and that’s why I moved here.
Sarah: how old were you?
Maria: I'm 60 right now.
Sarah: Right now?
Maria: Right now, I'm 60.
Sarah: And when your teacher showed you …
Maria: I was in the 4th grade.
Sarah: So 8 years old?
Maria: No, I was about 9.
Sarah: 9, that’s very young
Maria: And I carry my dream. All through. I go to college. And I..That teacher I keep it in my mind, in my mind. Because she guided me for the right direction. She was my 4th grade teacher and my 8th grade teacher. She was my teacher for Math, History, and Chemistry. And that’s why I’m learning, that’s why I have a dream. I want to be a doctor, I want to be an engineer, I want to be architect, I want to be an accountant, I want to be a lawyer. So, by the time coming I decided to be an accountant because that's my passion, to deal with numbers and work with numbers and that’s what I’ve been doing for 20 years.
Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council, Grand Concourse