The Spanish word acogedor means “welcoming,” and can be used to describe an environment that is considered comfortable and warm. That is what Cold Spring is to me. It means safety, both physically and emotionally. There is nothing that can bring me out of a bad or hazy mood more than walking on Main Street.

Violeta (right) celebrates with her parents, Eduardo and Francisca, and sisters, Cala and Rita, after the family moved to Cold Spring in 2015.
Violeta (right) celebrates with her parents, Eduardo and Francisca, and sisters, Cala and Rita, after the family moved to Cold Spring in 2015. (Photo provided)

I was 8 years old when my family came here in 2015 from Santiago, Chile — I am the eldest of three girls. We came for my father to attend college, and for medical treatment for myself. I still remember gripping my bright-pink suitcase with shaking hands after we landed at JFK.

The minute we stepped foot in Cold Spring, we fell in love with it. But it was not an easy transition. At school, I remember being embarrassed because I could only count to nine in English. I had a hard time making friends because of the language barrier.

Moving is always hard, but moving to a different country where you don’t speak the language or have the same culture is especially difficult. It turns mundane tasks into challenges that leave you exhausted by the end of the day.

Quickly, I became the best English speaker in the family. This meant that for a while I was the only one who could represent who we were. There was a responsibility in that I bet all older siblings feel at one point.

One of the first times I could introduce myself to my classmates and the village was at the Haldane Elementary School talent show. I sang a song from Violetta, a Hispanic TV show. Although my singing voice is not one of my strengths, I remember that, for weeks following the show, many people came up to me, remembering me as the girl who sang in Spanish. I was so proud of that.

Nothing rivals the feeling when I visited the library and knew enough English to be able to read the titles of the books. I remember reading The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley in school and falling so deeply in love with books. After that, it was a given that I would spend hours in the library, both Desmond-Fish and Butterfield.

Even though we live in a fairytale village, I don’t want to sugarcoat. Being an immigrant can be scary. I felt that fear as an 8-year-old newcomer and still feel it sometimes at age 16. There is so much uncertainty, so much fear that one day someone will knock on your door, telling you that you have to leave because you have lost your visa privileges.

One of the scariest moments occurred in the sixth grade, when newspapers printed headlines like “Immigrant kids in cages!” along with horrible things that people were saying about immigrants. Being so young, I thought they were holding children like me in little dog cages.

There are countless people in this community who have changed my life, too many to thank. The community has taught me empathy, generosity and courageousness. I will always be fiercely protective of its people for making me feel safe enough that I could be anyone of my liking.

My family is moving back to Chile this month. I am looking forward to seeing where the world takes me, but I will never forget Cold Spring. It has been a privilege. This is not the last time we see each other so, as of now, farewell.

Edwards Salas, a sophomore at Haldane High School, is a member of The Current’s Student Journalists Program and our first correspondent in Santiago.

Behind The Story

Type: Opinion

Opinion: Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

Edwards Salas is a sophomore at Haldane High School and a member of The Current's Student Journalists Program. Location: Philipstown. Languages: English, Spanish. Areas of Expertise: Youth issues. The Student Journalists Program is supported by our members.

One reply on “Reporter’s Notebook: Farewell, Mi Pueblo Acogedor”

  1. What a loss for Cold Spring! Violeta was a dedicated intern for the Cold Spring Film Society, and her aptitude, confidence and easy-going attitude will be missed. We look forward to updates from her adventures in Santiago.

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