This I Believe
By Alin Badillo
When I was younger I remember my mother always watering the plants she had around the house. I remember her watering them with a huge smile on her face. Her eyes glowed with such brightness that you could see the reflection of the moon upon the town. She seemed very peaceful and relaxed. I remember her looking at me and telling me about how much peace and harmony the plants brought to our house. She said that the plants gave us peace and harmony. At that age I was confused. I had no idea what she was talking about.
As I grew older the separation of my parents was cruel and devastating for me. I was only eight when my mother, who had custody of me, left me in Mexico and came to the USA. I didn’t know what to do. My two older sisters didn’t mind living with our aunt. Unlike them, I felt very lost with no guidance. Every day after school I spent my afternoons and free time on top of a tall, green and strong tree my grandmother had in her backyard. The tree was very bushy and wide like a tall and buff bodyguard guarding a one year old. The tree made me realized how being near plants and trees put me at ease with myself. I felt protected and safe.
It didn’t take long before my mother brought both of my sisters and me to the USA. All I wanted was to be with my mother so I didn’t mind leaving my history behind to start all over. The four of us arrived in Jackson, Wyoming at five in the morning at our mom’s apartment. That night I fell asleep in her arms. When I woke up she was watering plants. She had plants at every inch of the apartment. If you went to the bathroom, you saw a cactus. If you went to the kitchen you saw a spider plant. The apartment looked like a jungle. The jungle of in her house reminded me of how peaceful and calm I was at my grandmother’s tree.
Growing up with a single mother and two teenage sisters was very hard. Not to mention growing up in a culture that was different to all of us. Going to school helped me to adapt but it was miniscule. What helped me the most was living in an area surrounded by mountains, plants and wildlife. Every time I was upset or just wanted peace, I went on hikes and stopped to look at the sky and listen to the birds chirp. I went to find the tranquility that only the forests could give me. I knew then that I had one mission in life. My mission was to protect the natural wonders of the world and teach others that plants and wild life can bring peace to the earth.
As I got older and more educated I understood that the only way I was going to fulfill my mission was through education. I wasn’t sure if I could even get that far; I come from a low-income family; my parents did not finish Middle School; my sisters got married and had kids at ages 18 and 19. I was expected to end up like my sisters, at least that’s what my coworkers and others said to me. Every time I spoke to them about my dream of saving the earth, they just laughed and changed the topic. It didn’t matter to me if they believed me or not, because every time I went to take a hike on the mountain or saw swans with their family crossing the street on my way to work, my ambition to protect the wild landscapes and teach others of its magic grew immense.
Now that I am 21 years old, I am very proud of how far in life I have gotten because of how much I care for the environment. I know that society and nature can live together. I perceive that I can teach society what the natural environment taught me. If people are able to connect to the environment as my mother and I do, society will understand that taking care of our wildlife and plants as if it were part of us will bring peace and harmony to all of us.
Alin Badillo is a student of the University of Wyoming majoring in International Studies and Environment and Natural Resources. This past semester she had the opportunity to write a “This I Believe” essay through a course offered by the UW Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources. She presented her work to students and faculty to share and express some of the core values that help guide her daily life. The “This I Believe” essay is based on a 1950’s radio program hosted by journalist Edward R. Murrow. In 2004, This I Believe, Inc. was founded as a non-profit organization to engage people from all walks of life to share their core values in hopes to encourage people to respect beliefs that may be different from their own. Since then, essays have been featured in National Public Radio (NPR) broadcasts, in classrooms, within organizations, and across communities.
Alin is excited to share her “This I Believe” essay and hopes to inspire other young Latinas and Latinos to explore how they make connections to the natural world around them.