(The DreamYard Project)
My name is Neissa Fils and I was born in Haiti on February 29th, 1996. I’m a leap year baby, so really I’m only five years old if you go by the number of birthdays I’ve had! I celebrate my birthday on February 28th, so when there’s a year when the 29th is coming, I get to celebrate twice! I came to the U.S. after the earthquake, when I was fifteen turning sixteen. America seemed pretty much the same except for the housing. In Haiti we had our own house, so I had my own bedroom and everything and the house was very big. Also in Haiti, we studied a lot. We went to a private catholic school, and they’d give a lot of homework and books to carry every day. We had uniforms and exams every single day. I grew up speaking French and Haitian Creole. In school in Haiti you’re supposed to learn three languages: French, Haitian Creole, and Spanish or English.
I came to DreamYard when I first came here to The United States, and have been there for about two years. I like DreamYard a lot. They have many different kinds of programs that you can participate in. I went to every single one of them, except for the music one because I don’t like to sing. The Shakespeare Summer Intensive we just had was great; I learned so much! I think I learn in a different kind of way. I learn at school but it’s not the only way that I learn. I learn by traveling, I learn by art, I learn by watching TV, I learn by walking on the street—I learn from everything. I have a lot of interests, but my favorite is political science. My second interest is medicine, and my third is art. I love art, but I don’t really see myself in it as a career. If I can learn more about the arts and go to college and study from it, I will.
But I LOVE political science. I work with a coordinator on my political science stuff. My coordinator is part of UYC, Urban Youth Collaborators. They have 4 different organizations from 4 different boroughs in New York City: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. I think my coordinator thinks that I’m crazy because every day I say, “Oh my gosh, I really love our meetings!” I like to go to meetings every day. A meeting is when you have a rendezvous with a politician or someone in government, and ask for money—stuff like that. We go and we talk with them about what we’re doing, and we show evidence for what kind of stuff that we need. The work that I’m doing right now is around education, and next year I want go into Immigrants Rights because that’s what I ultimately want to study. Right now in education, we’ve been having meetings with the mayor asking for what we need in our school system.
I also really like to travel a lot. I’ve been to sixteen places! I went to Canada, Montreal, Quebec, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Connecticut, Albany, Chicago, New Orleans, and Boston. I’m going to Los Angeles this October to talk about the work we are doing in my school. One day I want to become a senator working on immigrants’ rights because undocumented people have a very difficult life. As an immigrant myself I know how it feels, even though I am here legally. I know one of my friends that suffers because of her lack of rights, so I really want make a change for the next generation.