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Isidro Galarza-Fernandez

  • Isidro Galarza-Fernandez, Academic TransferIsidroGalarza-Fernandez_web

    Isidro's moving essay, "The Different Wars We Fight," parallels his impoverished childhood in Mexico with his friend Yves's struggle with civil war in his native Congo. Isidro talked with us about the evolution of his essay and his pride in having told his story.

    Illuminations:  Hi, Isidro! Have you always enjoyed writing?

    Isidro:  I didn't enjoy writing until I learned to read English; my writing had bad spelling and confusing words.  But I was still able to think about my ideas and put them on paper.

    Ill:  In your story, "The Different Wars We Fight," you write about your friend Yves and how both of you struggled with and survived difficult times as children and young men. How did you get the idea for writing about your experiences?

    Isidro:  In class, we were assigned to write about someone else. I was overhearing Yves and could identify with his background. Most of the people around me had grown up having a nice life; mine didn't compare, but Yves's did.

    Ill:  How has the experience of growing up in poverty in Mexico influenced the way you approach life today?

    Isidro:  When I was younger, I had no money whatsoever. My mom passed, and I started working at eight years old. Now I'm working in corrections, and I see that if my mom had stayed alive, I might have become arrogant and spoiled instead of knowing what it means to work hard.

    Ill:  You're in the Academic Transfer program at SCC. What are your ultimate career goals?

    Isidro:  My big goal is to become a cop, to move to the criminal justice program. It's hard to go back to school now, though; my job is demanding.

    Ill:  Do you have time to enjoy creative activities?  Do you see yourself continuing to write?

    Isidro:  I don't have many creative activities now because I'm so busy. I do want to write more, though. Corrections here and in Mexico are very different. My experience in the Marines is also very different in the U.S. than it was in Mexico. I'd like to write about these experiences. But I'm busy with my three kids, too. We play basketball and videogames and soccer. I like to put on camo and play soldiers with my son.

    Ill:  Your powerful essay has received many compliments from readers. How do you feel about publishing your work in Illuminations?

    Isidro:  It feels pretty good! I have several copies at home. It's too bad that I haven't seen Yves in a while, though.

    Ill:  What advice would you give other writers who are thinking about submitting their work to Illuminations?

    Isidro:  Keep writing! If you need to, take breaks, drink coffee. Put music on - I love opera and Brazilian music and Russian music-just keep writing.

    From "The Different Wars We Fought"
    by Isidro Galarza-Fernandez 

    Those bad events and experiences that Yves and I lived through when we were younger are what helped to make us who we are today. There is no way to compare my way of growing up in Mexico to his way of life in Africa. We both suffered; we both struggled. By sharing the personal battles we survived, we saw beyond our differences, and we created something many in the world have forgotten about, friendship. The only thing we knew for sure was that those terrible moments from our pasts taught us to be better individuals. They taught us to be better to others. Maybe we appreciated every day a little more than others. We have fought our wars, and we are stronger and more peaceful for fighting them. Life has meaning to us because we had to fight for it. In my interview with Yves…, my final question to him was, "Do you think that if you had not left Africa, you would be dead right now?"

    He looked at me and without a moment's hesitation said, "Yes, but I am not dead. I am alive, and it feels good to be in school after all those things that I lived through in Africa. Living in the United States has been good for me and my family, and it is a good feeling to be free."