Silvia Martinez, who cleans Cramer Residence Hall, is one of those people who is not a teacher or a student but who makes it possible for life at MU to go on.
Martinez, 26, was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and moved to Columbia five years ago. She has a husband and two children, 3-year-old Eduardo and 4-year-old Adilene.
Martinez said she knew little English when she arrived. But her language skills have improved, in part by working at a factory and in other residence halls on campus.
Martinez said she thinks her upbeat personality helps on the job.
“I get used to my work so quickly,” she said in a conversation translated from Spanish. “I try to go to work in a good mood because if you go happy to work, it passes faster, but if you go sad or angry, it can be very tough.”
After three months at Cramer, she said she is getting to know some of the students.
“I always greet them, and sometimes we talk a little bit. But it’s hard because of my English,” she said.
Martinez said she misses Mexico a lot but that living in Missouri means an opportunity for her two children.
“I want them to go further than I did,” she said. “I want them to have the chances in life that I didn’t have, and they will have them here.”
Martinez is taking English classes at Douglass High School. Any little thing she learns is appreciated.
“If in one class you just learn one new expression or question, then it’s good enough,” she said.
Martinez hopes one day to retire in her homeland.
“This is not the same,” she said.