LIke many of her fellow citizens, Mirza “Michi” Barrientos’s life was marked by the war that shattered her country in the 1980’s. Confrontations between the army and the Guatemalan guerrillas forced the closing of the center where she was studying. However, that didn’t stop her from finishing the career of her dreams and becoming a teacher.
Michi’s need to be with her husband forced her to migrate to the United States in 1996, before obtaining a visa. She followed the same path that millions of her fellow citizens and immigrants have taken, crossing the Bravo River. Somerville was the city that received her.
Unable to adjust her immigration status at the time, she began her volunteer services career with Family Network, a place where she also studied English as a Second Language. Soon after, the couple gave birth to their first son, David.
Once in Lynn, Michi continued studying English in Operation Bootstrap, where she was also a volunteer. Her leadership allowed her to become president of that institution’s Student Committee. It was there that she got to know Neighbor to Neighbor, her son, Robin, “The Little Volunteer”, was born. He always asked his mother with his little voice to go to “Neigh- borrrrr to Neighborrrrr”. Since then, her commitment to the community of Lynn has grown.
Now a U.S. citizen, Michi has made innumerable visits with Robin to the State House advocating against large corporations, to improve crucial services such as health care and housing, to increase the minimum wage and for CORI reform.