Karla Haney

As Interviewed by Anya Ruttala, March 21, 2019

Karla Haney: In Her Own Words

Right now, I’m a Spanish interpreter, for a company called MasterWord, and the main client of my company is CPS, Child Protective Services.

My family applied for a lottery, I don’t think they do it anymore, but people from all over the world used to apply for this lottery. And the lottery is that they give you a green card. But I do have political asylum. I do love my country, and it was leaving my country and not knowing when I was going to come back, or if I was going to come back. It really wasn’t as much as my decision, as it was my family’s decision. My family decided that they wanted me to be here.

Well, I didn’t speak the language. The food was different. The weather, too. I came in the summer, and the sun felt here like it was burning. Everything was different. I used to go to a girls’ school, and here, I did one year in a regular high school. In Spanish, the sounds are always the same. Like a is always a, like manzana. And in English, “a”, it has so many different sounds, and that was hard.

I have family here. I grew up with two of my cousins, and they were here. And also, I have an aunt and an uncle who were here. I used to pray, long time ago, not so much now. I used to go to church. And, it helped me. My family believed, not so much in reaching out to all the people from Nicaragua, but mostly in me getting used to Americans and the language. So they didn’t reach out.

When I left Nicaragua, I was a very angry and bitter person because I was leaving so much behind. I had a lot of hatred in my life, or in me. To be honest, I didn’t have many hopes or expectations. I was hoping that I was going to go back. I never thought I was going to stay here as long as I have been living here.

And I think about what this country has done for me, it’s like my heart just did a somersault, and I started looking at life in a different way. I didn’t have to worry, because I was not living in Managua anymore. I didn't have to think about what was happening in my country. Or I didn’t have to think about the government because I was so busy learning how to speak English, that it really took most of my- pretty much all of my time.

I didn’t expect that I was going to become this person I am today. A person that is a lot more open, and a lot more forgiving. The opportunities were beyond academics, the opportunities were being able to find hope. And, it sounds cheesy, but thinking about who I was then, compared to who I am now- I was able to find love. When you are full of hatred, you are consumed by that obsession. It weakens you. And when you start turning around, and you start thinking about all the good things that are in your life, when you find love in your life, you can start giving to people, and start reaching out to the people, and trying to help other people. And I’m able to give myself to other people, and I was not able to do that before, when I was in my own country.

Moving here, to Austin, was very difficult because I didn’t know the city. Public transportation is difficult. I started going from my aunt’s house to ACC. It would take me almost an hour, just to get to ACC. The environment here, or the air, was cleaner than in Managua, but transportation was more difficult because I didn’t know how to drive.

I went to a party, on election night. At this party, there was this mom. The host of the party. And she told me “Karla, if there is ever a moment where you need help, let me know.” I was so touched because it was the generosity of the American people, who are always willing to stand by you, to lend you a shoulder.