The American Dream: The story of how one of our very own Spanish teachers came to the United States


Bryn Valdez, Reporter

After moving to the U.S. with the promise of a more lucrative career, Spanish teacher Seydie Coronado reflects on her experiences, and how her life has evolved since.

Coronado moved from Costa Rica to Durango with her former spouse and children in 1991, residing in Durango for the past twenty six years.

“When I first moved to the U.S. I got really homesick. I didn’t drive and I didn’t really know English, even though I was a bilingual secretary. But after about six months, it got better,” said Coronado.

When she moved to San Jose after graduating high school, she became a cycling race official, where she met her former husband, and then became a secretary.

“Working in Costa Rica, I had to get up at 5:30 a.m. and take a cold shower because we did not have hot water systems. Then I had to take a bus to go to work at 7:00 am. I considered my life in Costa Rica easy, as we adapt to what we have to do. I did not take a thing for granted,” said Coronado.

However, a year after getting married, Coronado and her husband decided to make the move to the U.S.

“My former spouse would make a lot more money in the U.S. than in Costa Rica, and it was dangerous in the city with kids, so we decided to move,” said Coronado.

At the time, Coronado was five months pregnant with her daughter, and had a three year-old son. After almost eight months of trying to get clearance into the country, Coronado found herself working as a teacher’s aide at Mountain Middle School to get a teaching degree from Fort Lewis College.

“There are many differences between the education systems in the U.S. and Costa Rica. One of them is that in Costa Rica, kids get a religious education. Another one is that they really want to learn and attend school. In the U.S., with the years that I have been at Durango High School, specially the last couple of years, many kids think they are entitled to education,” said Coronado.

Costa Rican students have limited supplies, all of which they supply themselves. “[Students] take care of the school property although they do not have much.” The treatment of school property, was one of the many characteristics of American culture that Coronado was surprised by upon her arrival.

“In the past, I have noticed self-entitlement from the American students.  Students in Costa Rica appreciate the opportunity of going to school and self advocate when necessary,” said Coronado.

Coronado recalled that in the absence of substitute teachers, students would start doing classwork regardless. They tutored each other and created a culture of community within their classroom. That aside, Coronado appreciated the opportunity to live in such a place as Durango.

“I have established myself in Durango and I have a beautiful little family.  I love my extended family at Durango High School: students, teachers and everybody in this school community. I love Costa Rica, but I consider Durango my home. I would never move back, just because I am truly happy here,” said Coronado.