Juan Returns to North Dallas High

PRESS RELEASE:  

Current Event - Undocumented Child / DACA Recipient Returns to High School as Motivational Speaker

EVENT:   North Dallas High School, speaker Juan Terrazas

3120 N Haskell Ave, Dallas, TX 75204

WHEN:    Friday, April 7.   9:00 & 10:30 school assembly.

DETAILS:   Juan Terrazas, author and former North Dallas High School graduate, will be sharing his experience as an undocumented child.   

Many of the high school students are receiving Juan's book, Left In America.  Juan will be sharing his story, challenging both documented and undocumented students to complete their schooling and reinforcing that education is the way out of poverty and the path to success in America.

 

Juan is available for personal interviews before and after each presentation.  For additional information, including a copy of the book, contact Ed Blair, President, Left In America Organization (214-293-1290, 154 Glass St., Suite 108, Dallas, TX, 75207).

Visitors must file a form with the school in order to attend.

23

The number 23 has a general significant meaning for many. When we see it, we either think of one of the greatest basketball players, Michael Jordan, or one of the most known Bible Scriptures Psalm 23. I am personally fond of the number because it has a significant meaning for Amy (my wife) and I. Since dates are important to me, I always remember specific things. So, I would like to share a few dates that involved the number 23:

  •  May 23, 1997 is Amy’s spiritual birthday.  
  • Amy & I became Facebook friends on October 23, 2013 (this may sound silly, but it involves the number).
  • On February 23, 2014, I made it known to her that I was interested in pursuing a relationship.
  • The span between my birthday (June 9) to Amy’s birthday (July 2) is 23 days.
  • On December 23, 2014, I packed my car with all my belongings, and I drove off to my new home, Atlanta, GA from Dallas, TX.
  • On December 23, 2016, Amy and I stepped foot into Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico. 

As you can see, there are a number of reasons why the number 23 is significant to me. On top of them all, the number 23 in Biblical terms signifies “God is with us.” Let me explain. After Amy and I realized some of our relationship events that happened on those dates I mentioned, we decided to look up what 23 meant in the Bible. We saw verses from Matthew 1:23 that talk about Mary conceiving Jesus and states “God with us.” In Psalm 23:4, it also speaks about God being with us through the “valley of the shadow of death.” Jeremiah 23:23 says, “Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far off?” We know this is rhetorical because He is a near God. Even in the distance, He knows our hiding places. 

My parents have longed for the day Amy and I could go visit them in Juarez. Every time I spoke to my mom on the phone, she had a countdown and was excited about us going to visit them. “Ya mero se acerca el dia!” she would say (the day is surely approaching!). Amy and I flew out from Atlanta to Dallas on December 22, and we got to spend time with my little sister Alma and some friends. The next morning on the 23rd, we arrived at our gate at American Airlines, and nearly missed our plane due to a last minute gate change.

Amy and I on the way to Juarez

Amy and I on the way to Juarez

When we landed in El Paso, TX, one of my dad’s cousins, Alejandro, picked us up. Supposedly in my culture he would be my uncle (but I don’t even want to explain it because it kind of gets confusing). Alejandro drove us across the border to meet my parents outside The El Rio Grande Mall. Even though he lives in El Paso, he has hardly traveled to Juarez due to the drug infestations. He and my dad had a happy reunion.

Welcome to Mexico!

Welcome to Mexico!

As I returned to Juarez, I could only imagine how different it would be since going the previous year. This was my second time seeing my parents in about 12 years. Above all, I was most excited for my parents to meet Amy. They were delighted to see us and took us from place to place to visit various family members. It was overwhelming and tiring at the same time, but I was glad to see as many as possible.

Family!

Family!

The awesome thing about being in Mexico is that we got to eat real Mexican food! I love me some Enchiladas! Amy doesn’t speak Spanish, so I tried my best to make her feel as welcome as possible. My dad knows choppy English—or you can call it choppy Spanglish—but It makes me glad they try. My mom told Amy they would have to find a way to communicate, so sign language would be the best way. I thought that was funny. They kept saying, “Thank you, Amy. Thank you, thank you.” They said that through the whole weekend because thanks to Amy, we were able to get my Green Card.

Many people take for granted what a privilege it is to travel to be with family. It was such a blessing for me and it was my first Christmas with both of my parents since 2003. We were also able to celebrate my Grandmother's birthday. It was a short 3 day trip, but thankfully due to my Green Card, I know it will not be the last time I see my family again. Now that I am able to travel to Mexico, I hope the Lord opens more doors for me. 

 I hope this helps you understand why the number 23 is significant to me. Whenever you see the number 23, I hope the name “Immanuel” comes to your mind and you remember, “God with us.”

I posted a few pictures for you to enjoy!

 

Here to Stay

The Dallas Morning News posted an article recently, inviting local immigrants to share their stories. Here is mine:

Before August 2012, my younger sister, Alma, and I had very little hope in obtaining any form of legal status in the United States. Our parents wanted to give us a future with hope, so they decided to move to the United States. My father first migrated to Dallas, TX in 1995, and then my mother followed the following February. At that time, it was just my older sister, Maria, Alma, and me. In retrospect, I contemplate on my parents’ decision to migrate, and now I understand why.

Juan & Alma terrazas - 2016

America has always been a land that has attracted immigrants for centuries. We can see that from Christopher Columbus and the first early Pilgrims. We know it is not uncommon for people to leave their native land in hopes of finding better opportunities. Just like the early English settlers, my parents did just that.

I grew up in Dallas, TX since I was five years old. I was unaware of my undocumented status until I was twelve. I finally questioned my parents as I began to grow older, because I could sense that something was different about us. It all became more of a reality when my father was deported in December 2004. That was the day my family was separated. Alma and I lived with our cousin after our father’s deportation, but without any immediate family, that situation didn’t last long, and Alma and I soon had to fend for ourselves. We bounced around from place to place and hoped that someone would be kind enough to bring us into their family. She and I even experienced separation from each other. However, we figured our parents had brought us to America for a purpose, and we wanted to make the most of it.

Through all of the house hopping and instability, we chose to progress. We graduated high school, and we both have graduated from El Centro Community College with Associate’s degrees. We believed that if we were good children and did the right things, we would eventually be rewarded for our actions. And we were rewarded. President Obama opened the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 for undocumented children like my sister and me. Since then, we both have applied for Advance Parole to travel to Mexico. We saw our parents in 2015 for the first time since 2004. Alma still has DACA, and that is how she is protected from deportation. I have gone on to receive my Green Card since I married my wife. If DACA is obliterated, the hopes and dreams of many will also die. Should the children be punished? We are tired, sick and weary. We seek refuge as those who came before us.

As I returned to Juarez, I realized my parents saved me from a life I have not known. I saw the poverty and hopelessness in many there. I would not have had the opportunity to share my story today about my immigrant journey, had I been sent to Mexico after my father’s deportation. If I had been sent away, I would not have had the education I have today to help those less fortunate. I would not have had the opportunity to speak into people’s lives and show them how to trust God, even in their darkest moments. Had I been sent away, my book, Left In America would not have been published. I encourage you to read it and learn more about my journey.

My sister, Alma, and I are not the only ones. We, the Dreamers, were brought to the United States in hopes of making a better future for our families, and I compare it to the early Pilgrims who did the same. We are not all criminals. We are not all rapists. We are not all drug dealers. We are here to make a future for ourselves. We are here to serve others with our gifts and talents. We are here to stay.

 

-Juan Terrazas

Treasured Moments

Words are a favorite for me, and I enjoy finding out their meaning. Every time I hear an unusual word, I look it up to see its definition. I remember carrying a dictionary my senior year at North Dallas High School. Now, all I do is ask google :). The word that has recently intrigued me the most is “Kairos.” Kairos is an ancient word deriving from the Greek language meaning “the right” or “opportune moment.” The work for the book Left In America began in 2012, and it was published summer 2015. I’ve learned that some things cannot be rushed; timing is key. I believe the book is out at its proper time with the whole issue of immigration in the United States. I treasure the moments I get to speak out about my life experiences as a Mexican immigrant growing up in Dallas, TX.

Eastfield was the third Dallas County Community College I spoke at as their Hispanic Heritage Month guest. I like to say the “third time was a charm.” After the first two speaking opportunities at El Centro and Richland in Dallas, I critiqued myself and made some adjustments for the stage. I realized how much I dislike standing behind podiums. I felt trapped! I even had to take off my sports coat to rap at Eastfield. Rapping involves a lot of hand motions, so I bet I looked silly at El Centro. I could barely move! I have always been an extrovert, so I enjoy being close to the crowd. That is why I got as close to the edge as I could!

I have presented my testimony plenty of times, but these past three opportunities have truly challenged me. I say challenged because I realize more and more that people think differently than I do; yet, I know there are many who think as I do. I know there is a difference between being a peacekeeper and a peacemaker. I want to be a peacemaker. A peacemaker fights to make peace while the peacekeeper tries to keep it by pleasing people. My thoughts are meant for peacemaking.

I shared my thoughts with the students and faculty about using their time to serve others. I also challenged them to think about their mindset, and to evaluate the community of people surrounding them. I by no means have life figured out, but what I do know, I intend to give. What I share are key points I have picked up on my life journey. When people come to me afterwards and tell me how encouraged they were, and when I see hope spark in their eyes, it blesses my heart. I know I was made for so much more than to live an ordinary life. You were made to live extraordinary. I believe we each have something to offer, and we will only go as far as our mindset goes. I refuse to live only to exist. Life is like a breath; it is here one moment and gone the next. I know this is only the beginning for me. I made a choice to press in no matter what happens. This is my Kairos moment. I treasure these moments and grow from my experiences. By the Lord’s grace I make progress.

I want to thank Eastfield again for the opportunity to speak, and I hope you were as blessed by us just like Left In America was by you!

(Click on the photo to see more)

-- Dream Big; Take Action

Homecoming

Dallas has been my home since I was a child, so every opportunity I get to return, I love to take it. My opportunity came on September 21 – 25, thanks to El Centro Community College who invited me to be their guest speaker for their Hispanic Heritage Month. When I landed at Love Field Airport I could not stop smiling because I knew I was home. My baby sister, Alma (who is not a baby any longer, but I like to call her my baby sister), picked me up from the airport. I mention her because every time I share my story, it is also her story. We were both left in America in hopes of pursuing a brighter future.

After several months of waiting, the time finally arrived to speak at El Centro and Richland Community Colleges. Both were experiences I will never forget. I am an El Centro graduate, and that school was a huge blessing to me. I gained a great set of friends, and my Rising Stars counselors helped me make it through graduation. For me to share at El Centro blessed my heart. While I was visiting, I reminisced the time Victor Rodriguez, author of The Bellringer, was El Centro’s guest speaker in 2009. I was inspired by him and his book. The year Mr. Rodriguez was there I thought to myself, “Maybe after I graduate I can return and be their guest speaker one day.” That was seven years ago, before “Left In America” existed. Now in 2016 I had the privilege to speak in their Performance Hall. I showed a video from November 2015, the day I went to Mexico and saw my parents for the first time in eleven years. I wanted to be as transparent as possible, so that people could get to know me beyond what they would read in my book. I also shared three key points that helped me in my life. The three keys were about serving, the mindset, and building relationships. I express myself with my music, so I rapped my song “Stand Out” for them to let them know they are not to fit in; they were made to stand out. Afterwards, we had a book signing, and I enjoyed people standing in line to get a book! Yet, none of that compared to hearing a former high school classmate tell me she was touched by my testimony and knew she had to draw closer to God. If that was my purpose in going, then it was all well worth it.

Richland was a smaller setting, and a little more intimate in my opinion, since we were in their library. I shared my story with them and the three key points that helped me in life. There was a Q and A, so I enjoyed that. One of the questions asked was how would I encourage someone who wanted to give up, so I pointed them back to one of my keys, which was to examine their relationships. It is important to be around people who will not let you fail. As the questions kept coming, I was enjoying encouraging the group. Yet, there will also be that one person who wants to challenge you. One guy in particular asked me what I thought about the children who were brought to America at a young age like me. He asked if I thought if they should be allowed to become American citizens. I answered him and said, “I have a hope that something could be done since we had no fault in coming to America at a young age. Our parents took the risk because they wanted to give us a better future.” As the event was coming to a close, I tried to end it by sharing my experience of how I was ashamed of my ethnicity because of my status. I told them I no longer am ashamed of who I am. I am proud to be a Mexican American. As I was speaking, the same young man who asked me about the previous question, asked me if I thought gays should not be ashamed of their sexuality. He caught me off guard because I was not expecting such a question. That moment taught me to be prepared for any question that comes my way. The moderator spoke out and said that was an off topic question since we are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Shortly after that we were done.

We also had a book signing at Richland, and once again people were lined up to get a book. I was thanked, and quite a few said they could relate to me or had a family or friend who could relate. One girl had tears in her eyes, and it moved me. She said she was encouraged. I knew I went there for a reason. As I get to do more of this, I remember that I am only human, and because I’m human, I am no different than those with home I have had the opportunity to speak, and those I will continue to meet. If my scars bring healing to your life, then I know this journey was worth it.

-- Dream Big; Take Action

Returning to Dallas

As I reflect on my life I can see how troublesome it has been; yet, I know blessings have also filled my life. I never would have expected to be one of the millions who have been separated from his parents at fourteen years of age. Then again, how could I have been able to expect such a thing when I was only a child? I did not understand why I had to navigate through life on my own as a teenager. Back then I thought I was alone, but now at 26 years old, I realized I was never alone. Looking back, the more I became involved with the church ministries that reached out to me, the more I was actually building my family.

 

            It has been a long time coming, and after a few years of working on the book, Left In America, I know I have a purpose. Some friends from my Church family, Trinity C3 in Dallas truly believed God had a plan for my life, and they took the steps in building “Left In America.” It has been difficult living without my parents after my father was deported in December 2004. God took me on a journey through those years and led me to specific people who would embrace me as their own. Many times I wanted to give up, but I kept moving forward. Now, I hope my life will spark change in people to not give up no matter what. I believe we are each created for greatness.  

 

            This coming September, I will be speaking at El Centro Community College on the 22nd, and the following day I will be at Richland Community College. Furthermore, I am returning on October 25th to share at Eastfield. I am excited about these opportunities, and I want to touch on some key points I believe helped me overcome the challenges of living as a Mexican Immigrant in the USA. A few of the things that helped me face adversity were building relationships with various people, taking the focus off myself by serving others, changing my mindset, and pursuing an education.

I’m excited to share my story and hope to see you at one of these schools this fall!

New Position and Trusting the Lord

Sometimes I wonder where in life am I going and if I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. However, even in my wandering, I know without a shadow of a doubt the Lord is who guides my steps. I recently took a new job at a company called PureFun! Inc., and I had no intentions of making myself known to them. It didn't take long for some of the office staff to find out who I was because of an email I sent to the man that interviewed me (my email contains information about my book and music). After my second interview, I went for orientation. As I was waiting to meet with HR, a young lady came through the door excited to meet me,

"Hey, you're Juanton! I enjoyed listening to your music!"

That caught me off guard, but it was encouraging to hear that! I soon after went to meet with the HR lady, and she was excited to have me come on board with the "PureFun" team. As we started talking, I saw that she had many books in her room and asked if she liked to read. Excitingly she said "yes!" and mentioned to me that she had looked through my website and ordered two copies of the Left In America book! One copy for her, and the other for anyone who would like to read it.

She mentioned to me that every Wednesday they have a company meeting called "The Huddle," and she wanted to set up a time for me to share with everyone about my book and testimony. I told her that would be an exciting opportunity! And so it happened. On June 15th they scheduled me for the last 15 minutes, and I went on to share my life experiences as an immigrant in America, being left in America, and how "Left In America" came about. I showed them a couple of pictures of my family and let them know that last year in November 2015 was the first in over ten years my sister and I saw our parents. Afterwards, I had people thanking me for sharing my story, and others asked me about possibilities to share in other places.

As I said earlier, sometimes "I wonder," but God know the desires of my heart. As a young teenager I often thought, "there has to be so much more to life than what I see." I still do, and I press on.

-- Dream Big; Take Action

Smith Olde Bar Performance

Hey guys, I wanted to share a couple of pictures of my performance from the Smith Olde Bar on April 10th. I want to thank my family and those who came out to perform. I appreciate you Kyle with helping record "Going In (Young & Unashamed)" That was a fun night, and I am looking to be more involved with music. Please keep me in prayer!

-- Dream Big; Take Action

Settling Down and Making Moves

Hey guys, thank you to all who have supported Left In America so far. We have come a long way since the book was first spoken of, and it wouldn't have been possible for Ed and Debbie, a special thanks to you both.

Here are a couple of updates: - Amy and I have been married for 9 months, and we are nearing our 1 year anniversary!

  • After I returned to Atlanta from Mexico, I began a new job at the Church I attend, Victory World Church. The Church is located in Norcross, GA. I work with the Facility Service team And it has been a blessing to work with the guys I work with. This is a big Church, so I get to see the behind the scenes since I help do the set-up and break-downs.

  • On March 8th, I interviewed for Victory's Guest Experience Administrative Assistant Position. If I get the position, I will be working directly with volunteer. The interviewed with three people that day, and all three went great! I am excited about this opportunity, so please keep this in prayer. If you're interested in learning more about the Church, take a look at their website: http://victoryatl.com/

  • Apart from all this, I believe I am ready to begin with my music again. I will be performing at Smith's Olde Bar - Music Room here in Atlanta on April 10. Ticket are on sale, so contact me to get some info. Check out the pic below for some of the info!

Please stay tuned because I believe there are great things to come from the Lord, I believe. Ps 9:10

-- Dream Big; Take Action

*https://www.facebook.com/Left-In-America-403557689738244/ https://www.facebook.com/Left-In-America-403557689738244/ * https://www.youtube.com/user/jterrazas116/videos https://www.reverbnation.com/juanton j jterrazas9@gmail.comterrazas@leftinamerica.org Atlanta, GA 30044 Juan A. Terrazas

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

I could only imagine what was to come as I prepared myself to enter Juarez for the first time in about twenty years. Is it what I thought it was? Is it what I heard? As I drove across with my uncle, a sense of calmness hovered over me; yet, I was anxious to see how different Ciudad Juarez was from the United States. Once I crossed over, the first thing I saw were the people standing near the border begging for money as they held their hands or cups out. Secondly, I realized how roughed the roads were and how careful we had to be to not let a tire fall into the big dip. It was heartbreaking to witness how dirty the streets and broken down the buildings were. The driver drove as if there weren’t any street regulations. Almost at every stop light, there would be someone walking in the middle of street selling candy, roses, or even windshield wipers. In just a few minutes of being in Juarez, I was amazed at the difference from where I live in Georgia.

The drive to my parents was about 25 minutes from the border. As we entered into the street where my parents lived, I saw my Ma walking down the sidewalk. I jumped out of the truck and went straight to hug my Ma. Tears rolled out of both of our eyes because it had been about eleven years since we last saw one another. A couple minutes later, I walked down the street to find my Pa. He recognized me and walked toward me right away. As we hugged, he apologized over and over for leaving Alma and I at a young age. I felt torn apart; yet, I was built at heart. Alma and I were finally reunited with our parents. After many years of persevering without them, we had tears of joy because we knew that only the Lord made this possible.

My Ma has been affected by her diabetes lately, so she did not work the week Alma and I were there; my Pa took the responsibility to set up their tent. The street I saw my parents on becomes a flea market type of place Monday-Wednesday. Thus, my parents sit out in the heat and cold selling clothes and other products they have to bring in their income. Thankfully, my Pa is a handy man, and that way he also gets calls from neighbors who may need house repairs. He is able to make a little more money in that sense.

My grandmother was the reason we got to go because she is sick. She cannot walk anymore, and she has lost sight. She also has Alzheimer’s. I was betwixt, happy and sad to see her, but I am thankful we did see her again.

For returning to Mexico for the first time in 20 years and seeing my parents for the first time in 11 years was an experience words cannot convey. Even after returning to El Paso, I was amazed the immigration officers were kind to my sister and me. I thought it would have been different, especially after hearing that they can be quite rude. However, thanks to my wife and her parents who had various people praying for us, our experience crossing the border with DACA was at eased.

Thank you to all who have stood by us, Shalom!

-- Dream Big; Take Action https://www.youtube.com/user/jterrazas116/videos https://www.reverbnation.com/juanton jterrazas9@gmail.com Atlanta, GA 30044 Cell: 469-685-8401 Juan A. Terrazas

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Wayne Gretzky

*"Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle." Abraham Lincoln*