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Jose Quintanilla, 43

An American in Annapolis

     I moved here from El Salvador 25 years ago. I came to try to have a better life. Especially for my sons and daughters. If I come here I can make more, I can give whatever my kids ask for.
    Of course it was hard culturally. But more than anything, the language was difficult. It was scary. When someone asks you something, you don’t understand. You can’t respond because you don’t know what they’re saying. It took me about two years to adjust to the culture and language.
    I first felt American when … well, more than anything, a year and a half after I got here, I got my American papers. Then I felt like I was American.
    My life really has improved a lot. Economically it’s improved, and my personal safety has improved so much since being in El Salvador. I’m very happy to be an American.