Mexican student navigates Trump’s America


Cynthia G. Mawcinitt (right) and her friend Adriana C. Casas (left) cheer for Mexico during the final game of Gold Cup 2015, Mexico vs. Jamaica, July 26, 2015. Photo courtesy of Cynthia Mawcinitt

By Pavlina Cerna

Shortly after 7 a.m., Cynthia Selene Gonzales Mawcinitt rushes from her bedroom, her routine three times a week for the past two years. She smiles at her host parents with whom with she lives in their Kennett Square home and quickly hugs Daniel, 10, and Andrew, 8, their children she used to take care of.

“Good morning Thing One, good morning Thing Two!” Mawcinitt says to the boys, calling them after two characters from Dr. Seuss’s “Cat in the Hat” book.

Without having breakfast, Mawcinitt grabs her car keys and walks towards the garage.

“Have a good day at school!” she adds before closing the door behind her and starting the 45-minute drive towards the DCCC Marple campus.

Mawcinitt is an international student from Mexico, majoring in early childhood education. Like many other international students from her country, she is worried about President Donald Trump’s executive order to build a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico.

She says she is not as concerned about the wall itself as she is concerned about the unfriendly attitude of some Americans towards Mexicans.

After finding the closest parking spot to the entrance of the college, Mawcinitt goes to her first morning class that contains only two other Mexicans besides her, among 36 students. A student sitting next to Mawcinitt turns to her.

“I can’t wait for Trump to build the wall,” the student says, waiting for Mawcinitt’s reaction. When getting none, she continues, “I am really happy that Trump won the election!”

Mawcinitt says that the same student asked her whether she was legally in the United States earlier in the semester. After Mawcinitt answered that she legally obtained a visa that allows her to stay, the student asked, “Like a credit card?”

“I didn’t know what to say,” Mawcinitt says. “I just laughed.”

Mawcinitt experienced a similar situation at the Kennett Area YMCA during the summer of 2016. While sitting at the self-serving coffee area with her friend, Mawcinitt overheard three ladies, approximately in their 60s, discussing Trump’s presidential candidacy and stating that there are too many Mexicans living in Kennett Square. One of the ladies pointed at Mawcinitt saying, “Yes, we have enough Mexicans already!”

Mawcinitt realized at a young age that to be successful in Mexico, she would need to improve her English to a bilingual proficiency level, so she applied for an au pair program through an agency called Cultural Care in 2008, which allowed her to come to the United States for two years and work as a nanny. After filling out an application, she went through a process of choosing and being chosen by a host family in the United States. She matched with a family living in Kennett Square, Pa.

Mawcinitt spent two years taking care of two boys, while building a close relationship not only with them but also with their parents.

“After my au pair program was over, my host mom asked me to stay, study at the local college and keep improving my English, but I wanted to go home,” she recalls.

Shortly after returning to Mexico, Mawcinitt realized that the situation in her hometown had worsened. Due to no border patrol in her state, according to Mawcinitt, her hometown is “used by dealers to smuggle drugs to the United States.”

“It became dangerous to walk outside my house and I just wanted to leave,” Mawcinitt says.

When skyping with her American host family, Mawcinitt mentioned the condition of her town and again her host family asked her to return to the United States.

In December 2012, she agreed.

Mawcinitt worked as an au pair for her host family for another two years. With their continuous support she decided to extend her stay as a student and obtain a degree at DCCC. After successful completion of ESL classes, she now attends classes for her major and hopes to graduate in May 2018.

Shortly after Mawcinitt’s enrollment, Trump announced his candidacy.

“Although I am legal, my parents have been worried about my stay in the U.S. ever since Trump started to run for president,” she says. “I was disappointed when he won the election.”

According to Mawcinitt, most of what Trump says about Mexico is not true.

“Our president never said he would pay for the wall,” she says. “Mexicans were mad at him for inviting Trump over because he talks sh-t about Mexicans.”

Mawcinitt says she disagrees that building a wall, approximately three hours north from her hometown, will keep Mexicans and other Latinos from coming to the United States.

“They keep talking about building a wall,” she says. “We have tunnels! Most of the illegal immigrants come in airplanes anyway.”

When returning home from school, Mawcinitt skypes with her parents. Being the only child, she talks to them once or twice a week.

“Mom, dad, I think that I will move to Berlin once I am done studying here,” Mawcinitt says.

Her father excuses himself and leaves the room on the other side of the screen. According to Mawcinitt, he was not happy about her decision to stay in the United States from the beginning.

“Why do you do this, Cindy?” Mawcinitt’s mother says. “You know how much he misses you!”

Mawcinitt hopes for both her parents to come to the United States for her graduation. Her mother obtained a tourist visa two years ago, but Mawcinitt’s father does not have one yet.

“I would like him to come, but we are afraid that for all that’s happening, he will not get a visa,” she says.

Mawcinitt says she would like to return to Mexico and live in her hometown in the future and she hopes it will be less dangerous by then.

“Honestly, if Americans did not take drugs, dealers would not smuggle them over the border and my hometown would be safe,” she says.

Contact Pavlina Cerna at

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