Althea Nicole Esta - Green Card Voices

Althea Nicole Esta

Occupation: Student

Country of Birth: Philippines

Current: Hawai’i

“It was a blessing for me and I am grateful that we, the four of us, can live completely together here now.”

Althea was born in the Philippines and grew up in Ilocos with a loving family including her parents and a younger brother. At the age of six, her mother had to move to Hong Kong to earn money to support her family. Her father also had to work hard as a tricycle driver, and he later moved away to find better work in Lanai, Hawai‘i when she was twelve years old. Althea took care of her brother with some help from her cousin in the Philippines.

Althea enjoyed the company of many cousins and friends while in the Philippines. However, her father wanted to bring his family to Hawai‘i someday for a better life. He put Althea in a private school to have her learn English.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, it changed Althea from being outgoing to more reserved because she couldn’t go out and see friends. Despite these challenges, Althea started teaching her cousins during the school closures, wanting to ensure they kept learning, which also helped her pursue a dream of becoming a teacher.

In 2023, when Althea’s family suddenly got approval to move to the United States, she had to quickly say goodbye to friends and relatives. Before the departure, the family faced many challenges, like long bus trips to Manila for medical checks and visas, all while Althea was trying to finish school exams.

After arriving in Hawai‘i, Althea was initially disappointed with their living situation but soon found comfort through relatives. Starting school in Hawai‘i brought opportunities to make new friends, particularly with other Filipino students, helping her feel less alone and adjust to a new culture.

Now, Althea is focusing on her studies in teacher education and public service, using her experiences of overcoming difficulties and helping others. Her life is enriched by new friendships, family, and a commitment to making a positive impact in her community, both in Hawai‘i and back in the Philippines.