I met Carmen in January of 2011. She had recently been divorced. She was trying to build her life again. I'll never forget telling her to believe in herself and in her dreams. She answered, "Oh, I think it's a little too late for me". We exchanged email addresses. I asked her to write about herself, about her life. Carmen spent three hours using Google translator writing that letter to me. It's a tear jerker, to say the least. She was working in the fields when she was 9 years old. Her father was very abusive. I won't go into details, per Carmen's wishes. Basically, her family left her and moved to Italy when Carmen was a teenager. She started studying journalism at a university, but she fell in love, eventually quitting her studies. She became a writer for a newspaper for four years, until her divorce. She decided to begin her studies again, but this time studying politics, at a friend's advice. This advice would turn out to be Carmen's undoing.
I helped finance Carmen's second semester, and we began a concerted effort to get her a J1 visa for the summer. Carmen's is an extremely talented writer and a fast learner. Within weeks, she was writing to me in excellent English. She published a book of poetry in Romanian during this time. Most of her work is sad, because that is the life she knows. She did write a happy poem about me in English, her Angel with Rainbow Wings! Carmen had failed two subjects during the first semester, before I met her. I'd hoped that the Embassy would be kind to her, but it wasn't to be. They wanted passing grades. Carmen called me crying after her interview, but the Embassy had given her time to fix her problem. I contacted both professors on her behalf. They gave her a chance to prove herself. She passed both, one subject with a perfect 10. I thought Carmen would be okay with her second interview, but 2 grades were not submitted in time by her professors for the second semester. Her visa was denied. How unfair, but life can be that way sometimes.
My daughter and I had planned to travel to Europe for the summer, to learn about things we had both studied together in history classes at the University of Delaware. We decided that Carmen should join us. She was devastated from the visa denial. I didn't want Carmen to fall through the cracks with despair. We enjoyed our time together, which included a morning at St. Andrew's Orthodox Church in Scotland. Carmen is very religious, but she had lost God after her divorce. She cried when I took her to the church.
Carmen went back to her studies in the political faculty in October. But, she didn't understand what she was studying. I begged her to change to art or writing, things she excelled at, but she continued on her current course...and she failed. I've challenged her to write. I want her to write a novel. She has a great topic to write about...about someone who believed in her when no one else would. Carmen has a gift with words. She can do it, and I continue to challenge her. She is writing her second book of poetry. Carmen is still a work in progress. I won't let her fail!