February 8, 2010
Source: Washington Post
By David Montgomery
IPALA, GUATEMALA -- Red-shirted mariachis stroll singing and strumming into the dusty yard of a whitewashed villa where roosters crow the dawn. The lyrics of their serenade compare a maiden's beauty to the shine of the moon, as homemade fireworks explode in the lightening sky.
Up and down the narrow streets, across rocky farms and ranches, this little town at the foot of a dead volcano is coming alive -- to celebrate a girl from Langley Park.
Jennifer Sagastume, a sophomore at High Point High School in Beltsville, stands radiant on the porch of the villa to receive her serenade. The villa is under construction, like so much in this community stretched taut between poverty and progress.
Jennifer's smile flashes on and off, as if she were groping for the proper response to all the attention. She is thinking about her mother, who was born in a shack around here and left as a famished farmer's daughter 18 years ago. Now her mother cleans houses in suburban Maryland. And Jennifer has returned: A queen. An American citizen.
This is her day. She hopes her Spanish doesn't fail her. "I kind of get stuck on big words," she says.To Read More =>