Confidence Booster

“Yo quiero hacer un ejemplo.”

“I want to be an example.”


Hear more from this storyteller in The Weight I Carry.

Hold a Conversation

In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflectionThanks to Katie Karstensen for the following questions!

Clarifying Questions
  • What made the student stick out at the freshman block party?
  • How was the student treated?
  • What were some of the ways the student gained confidence?
Interpretive Questions
  • What parts of this students’ story stood out to you? Why?
  • What parts surprised you? Why?
  • Why did the student feel out of place at the block party? At Valpo? Why was the student trying to impress his peers?
  • How do you think the student feels when he stared at/stared down?
Implication Questions
  • Which parts of this story would you want to narrate differently if you could rewrite the speaker’s experience?
  • What are ways you can build your students’ confidence?
  • What are ways you can make your students feel included in the conversation? How will you prompt students to be themselves?

Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.

Transcript for Confidence Booster

Mi familia fueron nacidos en México. Mi mama y papa fueron nacidos en México, en Guerrero, México y mis hermanos mayores también. Ellos se vinieron para los Estados Unidos obviamente para vivir el, el sueño Americano. Mis padres son muy trabajadores, han sido todo lo posible para que agarrarnos esas oportunidades como yo, hoy, está aquí en la universidad, eso fue por la ayuda de mis padres.

[My family is from Mexico. My mother and father were born in Mexico, in Guerrero, Mexico, and my older brothers as well. They came to the United States, obviously to live the American dream. My parents are very hard workers and they have done everything possible to give us great opportunities; like me, today, I am at the University as a result of my parent’s help.]

I remember the very first day I came to Valparaiso University. They had a block party for first year students and my clothing, I guess, didn’t fit in. I was wearing shorts–basketball shorts-long socks, my sandals and a big–like a humongous–hoodie. And I had this type of haircut that was popular in my neighborhood area, which is basically like a taper were you have extra hair in the back. They called it a tail. It was a female that I met, she knew me through FOCUS, but her roommate didn’t know me at all and when she approached me she was like, “Oh it’s good to see you, it’s nice to see you again” and I’m like “Oh, hey, it’s nice to see you again too” and her roommate is just like: What? How is this possible? How do you know this guy? Where do you know this guy from? And usually it’s just the stares, the stare downs. Or, when I saw I’m from Chicago, they expect me to know, like, how to resolve violence or how to be a peacemaker.

In classes, I noticed that when we would get into partners, they would kind of push me to the side, and I was in the corner. I’m over here trying to scoot my chair in. I would get those looks, so that would discourage me and I would end up working alone. I did get the chance to talk to my professor about that, and he was really welcoming and he was really understanding.

When I would speak, I would try to use terms that were beyond my level, I would say. I didn’t know what they meant. I just remember reviewing them really fast and then just try to use them. He had the impression that I was trying to impress my peers. He noticed that I wasn’t being myself. He actually acknowledged that. We had a conversation about how uncomfortable I felt because of my lack of education as far as vocabulary-wise. He encouraged me, like: “Don’t feel discouraged; this is who you are. You are a student, you are learning, you’re here to learn. If your peers don’t want to work with you, you know, make that effort, you know? Show them that you are interested and capable of the same things they are.” He was like, “You can learn from them as well. Be yourself because I feel like… the things I read from your papers and the things that you have to bring to the table are beyond good and this is something that your peers can learn from.”

Other ways that I gained my confidence was not only talking with professors, but also prayer, chapel. I usually do my little prayers whenever I have time, whether that’s 10-15 minutes, just to sit and reflect because sometimes I feel so stressed and I don’t want to disappoint anybody, so I take some time alone.

Also, being involved with student organizations. I was elected president for Latinos in Valparaiso for Excellence and that’s a huge confidence booster because you have to be well knowledged about culture, have that confidence to go up to people and say, “Hey, my organization is about this. Let me tell you some reasons why my organizations will provide to your education while at Valparaiso University.” But it didn’t start as president. I started as activities coordinator for our organization. I was really shy, I didn’t want to give my presentation and speech, but I did it anyway. I remembered in the back of my mind that: “Make Little Village proud, make La Villita proud of you. Do it for your people.” My community is just like a huge confidence booster as well.

Yo quiero hacer un ejemplo: un ejemplo para mi comunidad, un ejemplo para mis hermanos, un ejemplo para los latinos, chicanos.

[I want to be an example: an example for my community, an example for my siblings, an example for young Latinos, for Mexican Americans.]

Quiero la gente sepa que esta mirando en video que si tu te sientes que no tienes el dinero, si tu eres el primero que ha entendido a la universidad, tenemos algo en común. Porque yo tambien soy de una comunidad de pandillas. Yo tambien soy el primero de mi familia que ir al colegio. Yo tambien sufro de no tener suficiente dinero. Somos iguales y queremos lo mismo y no estas solo.

[I want people that are watching this video to know that if you feel like you don’t have enough money, if you are the first to in your family to go to college, we have something in common, because I also am from a community of gangs. I also am the first of my family to go to college. I also suffered through not having enough money. We are equals, and we want the same thing, and you are not alone.]