April - June 2005, Other

A Picture With My Family

By Zulayka Martinez

I’m a native Mexican. Yes, I was born in Mexico and came to the United States when I was only seven years old. I still live in Houston. My family came here for a better life. Don’t get me wrong though, not for one second would I ever, ever deny that I’m a Mexican. I’m proud of my culture and heritage. But Mexico could never had given me what the United States has. This is where I went to school, where I work, and basically where I built my life. Most importantly, this is where I found ISLAM.

I was introduced to Islam by my ex-boss. He was one of my closest friends. We used to argue about religion. One day he gave me a Qur’an and asked me to read it. He said, “Here read this before you speak about something you are not aware of.” I remember him telling me, “If your heart is pure and clean once you read the Qur’an, it will touch and open your heart. It will make you cry but if God knows that you don’t care he will blind your heart and soul the moment you open this Holy Book.” That’s when I started reading the Quran. But once the Quran began to open my heart, I felt more peace and tranquility than I had ever felt before. Yes, I was confused and scared at first not knowing if I had done this out of curiosity or confusion.

I am in the following picture with nooooo-where near half my family. I am the baby out of thirteen children. This picture was taken in Houston, Texas. Two of my nieces graduated from high school at the same time.