I first met Marco when he began volunteering at Presencia during his freshman year of high school. In a community where gifted students usually aim at jobs as doctors and lawyers, Marco wanted to teach literature and make music.
I was surprised to meet a high school student who read authors like Joyce Carol Oates and Sam Shepard, played songs by The Strokes on guitar, and wrote poetry.
Marco joined the Presencia team as a mentor, and he began attending our church, where he joined the music team. As Ruthie and I got to know him, heard his story, and saw his determination to follow his own path, we appreciated his character and courage. But we didn’t see what was behind it until this past weekend.
This weekend, together with Marco’s mom Liliana, we drove Marco from our neighborhood in Atlanta to his college in Boston.
I quickly noticed Liliana’s pride in Marco. When she talked about him, she said, “My son.” She beamed when he talked, laughed at his laughter, and enjoyed the wide range of music he played as our road trip DJ. She cried whenever we began talking about Marco’s accomplishments.
Over the trip, we learned about the difficulty of her journey to the United States. We learned about her hard work, her consistent and heartfelt prayer, and her faith in a bright future for her son.
Marco is a unique and wonderful person. What he needed in order to shine was not someone who would place him on a prescribed path to success or force him into her idea of what he should become. What he needed was what his mother gave him, which was deep and unwavering love and support to be exactly who he was.
Liliana’s love for her son, her pride in his unique personality, her support of his interests, and her delight in his creativity made space for him to thrive.
I returned to our neighborhood after the trip with Liliana inspired to offer that same love and support to the whole Presencia family. May we all love and talk about one another the way Marco’s mom loves and talks about her son.
- Ian North, Director of Communications