Missing home

Sophomore Joel Ulloa stands outside the James Crawford Memorial Arena during his physical education class on Jan. 20. Since Ulloa moved to the U.S. from Mexico this year, he has had second thoughts about the move, but still finds many positive aspects of Athens. “I have a lot of fun over here. Especially I like the soccer fields. They are cool,” Ulloa said. Photo by Hannah Gale.
Update: The ODYSSEY Media Group will provide viewers with weekly stylized profiles that center on people in the Athens community telling their own stories.

Sophomore Joel Ulloa moved to Athens, Georgia for a better education, but it has been a hard transition from Mexico to the United States.

Freshman year: the rural state of Michoacán, Mexico. Soccer fields, farming fields.

Sophomore year: Athens, Georgia. Billy Henderson Stadium, home of the Gladiators.

With parents who barely finished middle school, he is doing his best to succeed in the place that once held so much opportunity.

“I’m trying to finish high school and go to college over here, so I’m trying to do my best to make (my family) proud,” he said

In Michoacán his family did not have a car.

In Michoacán he could not pay to go to a good school.

In Athens he has the opportunity to go to college and to pursue a professional soccer career, but he wishes he had never come.

In search of a better education, he and his father moved to Athens, leaving the rest of their family behind. A good school in Mexico was both far away and expensive, but he still wonders if moving was the right decision.

His advice to those considering moving from Mexico to the United States is simple.

“Stay over there. It is very difficult to come over here. So, just stay over there.”

He misses authentic Mexican food- his favorite is quesadillas.

He misses his mother.

He misses where he came from.

His address is in Athens, but his true home is in Michoacán.

Joel will make the most of his time here, but will always be filled with a little bit of regret.

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