Humans of Appleton North: Liliam Ocampos


Elise Painton, Managing Editor

“My name is Liliam, I am 16, and I was born in Via Clara, Cuba, but I lived in Havana, Cuba for 7 years.
“[In Havana] I lived in an apartment.
“The problem is, you have no money to go anywhere, but there are places you can go for free. We went dancing a lot.
“I arrived here May 20, 2015. I spent a day in Miami, and then I came to Appleton. We are political refugees, and we were told to go to Appleton, assigned by the World Relief Program. Political refugees are people who have a choice, having been in disagreement with the political regime in Cuba, or the government.
“These are the people that participate in protests and all kinds of manifestations of your disagreement, openly. You can apply to be a political refugee, and if you are approved, they bring you here and assign you a place.
“My family, my father, and my mother got approved to be political refugees. My brother does not fall under the status of a political refugee, but he is here too.
“It took us a year to be approved. My dad had tried before but didn’t get approved. This is the second time he tried.
“Appleton North is pretty diverse, there are a lot of different cultures. I feel at ease here. I don’t feel discriminated here.
“I would like for people to know that I have an education. We are very similar. We are not exactly same because I come from a different background and different culture so I have different values, but it doesn’t mean that I am much different from others, the other people here. I don’t want people to think that because I am from a different country I am less educated. When I came here, I thought I would not be able to fit into the system. Mostly, I thought it would be very hard. I feel like I can definitely [handle school].”