The British Library

Maggie’s Story

My name is Maggie and I am 13 years old. Me and my family come from Bulgaria. My parents were thinking about immigrating from our country even before I was born because of the horrible president ruling the country and other problems like: politicians, dirty air and dirty streets, jobs that weren’t very well paid and the education which is not as good as in other countries like England. In the early 2000’s my parents were depending on which country to move to and they considered Britain since they both spoke the language fluently, but soon found out that Bulgarians weren’t permitted to go to stay there long term and were only aloud 1-3 months with a visa. Some Bulgarians still tried to go to Britain but it was an illegal way and my family wanted to do everything co-operating with the law. Later in 2013 Bulgarians were now aloud to stay permanently in Britain and my family decided to take the chance and try. At the time I was 8 years old and it would have been hard to immigrate with a child and not know if everything was going to go to plan, so my parents decided that me and my mother were staying in Bulgaria and my father was going to travel to Britain seeking a job. He stayed with my cousins’ family, who had immigrated there two years prior to my father. A year later my father was stable with a job and had rented an apartment, it was time that me and my mother flew to England to join him. When we moved when I was 9 years old and could not speak a word in English ( look at me now, four years later writing an essay with fantastic vocabulary ) and I had to learn it immediately. When I started going to school the teachers helped me a lot and made it easier for me to learn the language properly, but in reality it was all my mom teaching me at home. Whenever I tell people that I learned to speak and write English fluently in 6 months they get very amazed. My English had come to be at such a good level that I was frequently asked questions like: “ How do you spell this?” by my peers, and I was correcting my friends’ grammar. I really enjoy English, it is currently my favourite subject at school (as I hate maths with a passion) and I usually get higher grades than my classmates who were born in this country and have spoken the language for 13 years.

It was all running somewhat smoothly until the Brexit deal was introduced. After two years of negotiations Brexit is now coming this March (at least that is what we know for now ). My family, and I think other ‘immigrant’ families will agree with me, doesn’t know what will happen and things will never be the same again. I hope that me and my family will be able to continue our life style and not have to change what we do on a daily basis, because of this upcoming event.

I’m putting my story out there not to seek for sympathy, however I think many people can strongly empathise. I’m telling my story so that other people are aware that the word ‘immigrant’ doesn’t always mean what most people associate it with. The word itself doesn’t have a meaning, the people that go by it make an impression on society and make them believe things that aren’t always true. So in conclusion I proudly have to go by the overlooked term ‘immigrant’.

-Maggie, Gravesend

© Yinka Shonibare, 2018 | Website by Hanna Sorrell