Andrea Ramirez stands in a field neighborhing her childhood home in Caneyville, a place unique for being in Amish country. Andrea has two families, one in Guatemala and the other in Grayson County because her biological family wanted her to have the education and success they couldn’t have. Today she teaches 5th grade at Clarkson Elementary School.
Lydia Drake, 10, raises her hand to answer a question during reading class as Andrea looks on.
Andrea gets a surprise after school group hug from sisters Emma Butler, 9, and Addy Bagshaw, 7. She has been friends with their mom since middle school.
Andrea Facetimes her mother, Concepcio Carias, 68, at her desk after school. Her mother was the primary breadwinner and was often away from home as a traveling nanny for families around the world. “She traveled everywhere . . . and she would always just send money,” says Andrea. “She did not marry until she was 28, which is very rare for people in Guatemala at that time and being that old. So, that’s something she wanted me to experience. She wanted to give me the opportunity to see the world and not just think that Guatemala was the only thing to see. There was more to life than just our community.”
Andrea sits down with her American parents, Brad and Brenda Cook, for barbecue dinner in the home they have owned for over 40 years. Andrea plans to care for them until they die and considers it her duty to do so. “I guess I still carry that culture, that you always take care of your parents,” says Andrea. “That’s very different from a lot of Americans here, where it’s like, ‘OK. When I’m 18, I’m moving out,’ and you’re on your own. But I always felt like if I’m able to help them, then I do help them. It’s the same way with my family in Guatemala.”
Andrea Rameriz is pictured beside her American nephews (from left) Bradley and Cameron Hicks in 1997.
Brenda Cook, 67, looks on as Andrea thumbs through an album of last year’s summer in Guatemala.
Andrea holds a single Guatemalan worry doll, a keepsake from her home country, in her room. It is said that children tell the dolls their worries and place them under their pillows at night for a peaceful sleep. When they wake up, their worries are gone.
Andrea turns to give her American sister’s husband Kelly Hicks a hug.
Teacher and aunt Sarah Hale looks on as preschooler Rhea Kiper, 4, rushes to Andrea for a hug before the start of the school day. After becoming the best teacher she can be, Andrea hopes to become a foster mom herself one day.