Yanexy Cardona

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Yanexy Cardona mentions her family’s immigration experience as Hondurans crossing the Mexican-American border. In addition, she defines her Honduran identity and how it is different from other Latin American countries. Yanexy discusses what influenced her family to move to North Carolina and how they have integrated with the community. She discusses some of the challenges her family had to face as immigrants. She describes ways she has interacted and participated to bring immigration awareness on campus as a student of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.



Katherinne Wawrzonek: Hello, this is Katherinne Wawrzonek and I am getting ready to record Yanexy Cardona about her experience as an immigrant and interacting in community in North Carolina. Okay Yanexy tell me a little bit about yourself.

Yanexy Cardona: Well, I am 19 years old. I have lived in Durham in North Carolina and I am a sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill.

Katherinne Wawrzonek: Where are you originally from?

Yanexy Cardona: So, I was born in Miami, Florida but my parents are from Honduras.

[00:00:45] KW: How do you identify yourself as a Latina? What are three things or four things that you mainly identify as a Latina? Like how do you identify yourself as a Latina?

YC: Well, I guess a Latina o Latino would be someone that their origins are from Latin America. It doesn’t necessary have to be like you know…just like South America. It doesn’t have to be someone Spanish speaking…you could be Brazilian, black, Latino because you are from Latin America.

KW: Okay, What are three things that identifies you as Honduran?

YC: Well, you have to have your roots from that place. I feel like that’s one. I guess, two is like to speak one of the Languages, maybe Spanish and there is also the indigenous language of guarifuna. Also, they speak English there some times.

KW: When you say roots, what do you mean by roots?

YC: When I say roots I mean that you are either born there or your ancestry is from there.

[00:02:23] KW: Okay, what composes that? What aspects of your culture or maybe traditions? Things that you do that identify you differently as a Honduran compare to Colombian or Mexican?

YC: A lot of people when they think of Latin America they tend to think of just Mexico, but that actually completely wrong. Latin America is composed of different cultures. For example, in Honduras they have their national dances like Punta, which is kind of rooted back to the indigenous/ African ancestry when men shake their hips and the drums roll. Also, the different types of food; I know that there are paliadas are not really known in Mexico or Colombia. Different places have food. The people, there are different facial features that you can use to tell people from different regions. Also, nationalism; I guess that you identify and you understand certain people. I know that in South America Simon Bolivar is very famous and respected, but for us in Honduras is more of Francisco Morazán because he liberated us.

KW: That is interesting. So it's not just about the culture but it also has to do with traditions, history and I guess family as well. Do you think your family is different then other Latin American families? If so, in what ways?

YC: Obliviously, there is different regions that have their different special words

KW: okay.

YC: Like I know for us there is maje, which is kind of like a person. Is like for Mexican is "way". Just little different languages…not languages but little words.

KW: Like dialect?

YC: Dialects, yeah but like …yeah I guess you can call it a dialect. It’s like different words that like people from that region hear and be like…!Oh that person said that word so they must be from that region because they said it!

[00:04:44] KW: So you mentioned that you were born in Miami but your parents were from Honduras. What made you guys move to North Carolina? Why did you choose this state, the city of Carrboro and this area?

YC: Okay, so my father got a job promotion here in North Carolina. He was working for a construction company and so he moved us here because of that. He wanted to get a hire… earn more money. He also did some research and learned that the cost of living is lower here.

KW: How has these opportunities with your dad's employment has benefit you guys in the long run?

YC: Well I know that in Miami, where I used to live. I had to share a room with my parents because we were not able to really afford a house. The houses over there….If you want a decent house and in a good neighborhood they are 200 thousand and above. Here they were able to buy a house and I was able to get my room. There are more financial opportunities here then in a big huge ginormous city.

KW: Have you seen any difference in Education?

YC: Yeah, obviously over there is a bigger city so classrooms are bigger. I remember I was in kinder garner with like 35 other children and there was one teacher or teacher assistant. Then, when I came here for middle school and high school it was much smaller. There was only 15 or 20.

KW: How did you feel like that benefit you in the long run?

[00:06:15] YC: I felt like I could connect with the teacher more. I felt like the teachers were more one on one. You could like establish a better relationship with them.

KW: How has this relationship benefit you in the long run? These connections, have they helped you become better in any kind of way or have they helped you achieve more in the academics?

YC: When I was in Miami I was suffering. If you asked me when I was little what my favorite subject was, I would have not said math or science because I hated those so much. Then, when I got here I was really good at math and science. I guess because I was more confortable with the teachers. Also, they actually try to have a good relationship with you. I don’t know if it’s the way they teach or if it’s more one on one. I understand the material better here.

KW: How are.. How is your relationship with the community? Are you very active? Is it hard for you to interact or integrate in the community as a Hispanic or Latina?

YC: Well I was in the community. I am very busy because I have like a job now. But before I was active in these organizations like SUIE and CHISPA. I’m actually trying to go back to those times. I am actually trying to go to the Cultura committee in CHISPA and like participated in like Noche Latina. Maybe in prompts or something but I have to talk to the members of the organization first.

KW: So you said you used to be more active with this organization but now you are not as much because of your work. What exactly did you used to do in these organizations? Like before work. For example, SUIE.

YC: In SUIE, I would always like if they had an event. I would always help out. I would always give ideas. I would always go to the meeting. I would establish better relationship, better friendships.

[00:08:26] KW: What kind of events did you helped in?

YC: In SUIE, there is a day in the life of an immigrant. It’s like a simulation where we gave out people either a special shape. They didn’t know what the shape represented, it was like a square and a circle. If you got the square you were undocumented. If you got a circle you had documentation, you were documented. So depending, you would go to different stations and depending on what you was, you got treated different.

KW: In what aspect were you treated different?

YC: So for example, in like hospitals. One of the simulations was that if you were undocumented you couldn’t really go to the hospital because you were afraid of the medical bills. So you would go somewhere else and you would delay your treatment. But since the other people were documented, then they easily when to the hospital and got treated faster. Another example, there was another station for the police. So, if you were undocumented you could face deportation. Then other station was schools, obliviously if you are undocumented you don’t have many options to go to hire your education.

KW: What about the other organization that you mentioned like CHISPA. What were some of the events you participated in?

YC: CHISPA, I Remember that I did this thing call Carnaval at the end of the year. I just helped set up something’s. Basically go to the meeting and put what I thought about some of the events.

[00:10:15] KW: What are some of the events that happened in Carnaval? Could you go into more detail?

YC: Yeah, sure. In the Carnaval the fraternity and sorority do their little dances. You got your face painted with like your flag from where you were from. They had food, cake and it’s just like a celebration.

KW: Did you see a lot of different diversities in these events?

YC: Of course, we also painted some of the flags that we had there. Yeah, of course we saw all kinds of people. It wasn't just like all Hispanics or Latino people. It was like Americans, not American. White people, African-American, Asians and everyone was there. Well not everyone but you know, different types of people.

KW: But this Carnaval focused mainly on the Latinos identity?

YC: Yes, like a celebration of the Hispanic culture.

KW: How did you feel like the Americans, the African-American and Asians related themselves to this Carnival? How did they react to some of the events that happened within the Carnival?

YC: Oh, like they loved it. I guess is because it’s exotic or different. They participated and got their face painted with like different flags. They danced.

KW: As a daughter of an immigrant, how do you see or do you see any different in the way your parents are treated when they try to interact within the community? What are their challenges that you feel they have as immigrants since they actually were not being born here, but as an immigrant to the North Carolina State?

YC: So, I guess when they came here to North Carolina State they already had…I think since I was 3 or 4 they were already documented. So I don’t know of any or I can’t think of anything of top of my head where they were discriminated. But I know there is people who are because they are undocumented. They got pulled over and they had through go to immigration court and they just got deported.

[00:12:32] KW: When you say these people, do you mean friends of your family?

YC: Yes! Yes family and other family members.

KW: Like could you go into more detail?

YC: Like an example of this is my cousin. I think last week they like, I don’t know if it was racial profiling or they stopped him. They stopped him. I don’t know if he was speeding? (She was talking to herself) I don’t know the exact story, but they stopped him and he was undocumented so obviously he didn’t have a license. Now he is in immigration court currently, they put him in jail and then they…I guess figured out that he didn’t have documents. Now then….Now he is in immigration court and they might… I am pretty sure they are going to deport him.

KW: So how is this affecting your family knowing that one of your relatives are going through such a difficult time because of not having a legal status within the United States?

YC: It is horrible. I know my mom cried because she felt like she was responsible for him. He is 21 so she felt like she was responsible for him. I guess she feels bad because she was supposed to be responsible for him. This was not suppose to happen to him so I guess this is just hard for the family.

KW: Is he your mom’s nephew? Or is it your dad's? When you say cousin.

YC: Mom.

KW: Is it through your mom's sister or brother?

YC: Mom's brother.

KW: How close are you to him? What's his name?

YC: His name is Fernando.

KW: How… Are you close to Fernando?

YC: Oh yeah. When he was in Honduras like I would hang out with him all the time because we are so close in age. When he was here we would go out all the time.

KW: So how does that affect you directly?

YC: Well I feel sad that he has to get deported.

KW: Do you know for sure that he is going to get deported?

YC: I mean..

KW: Is there any kind of waiver or anything that he could be able to apply? Have you spoken to a lawyer?

YC: Yeah, we have done that.

KW: There is no chances for that?

YC: They told us to write letter and say that he is a good person but they don’t have…we don’t have lots of hope.

[00:15:07] KW: What other challenges do you feel like your family has faced whether is direct or indirectly as an immigrant in the United States?

YC: Well obviously if you have DACA, then you cant have a decent job. You can't get education or it's harder to get education. So, I feel like just closes us to so many opportunities that you can have here. It just keeps us on this cycle.

KW: What do you mean this cycle?

YC: It's kind of like…I feel like we as Latinos have this little cycle where we are not documented. So we don’t get education, we have children early, and then I guess our children see that we did the something. So then they want to do the same thing and it’s just like this little cycle.

KW: So how important is it for immigrants to try to interact within the community to that they can get to know the law, but also like you mention the work and education opportunities. Because if you are undocumented your resources are kind of limited but don’t you…how do you think is important for them to interact so that they can learn what other opportunities are there for them?

YC: Well I know like when they try to interact within the community there are different organizations. Like I know that there are people who give free advise or undocumented lawyers. There is also people that I know in churches that give and have different programs for like education to teach people how to speak English.

KW: Have your family ever taken any of those courses or any other programs?

YC: I guess when my dad was in Miami. They had this community college had ESL programs and that’s how he learned English.

KW: Are both of your parents fluent?

YC: My dad is definitely fluent. I feel like my mom understands but her grammatical structure isn’t that well, but she definitely understands it.

KW: So how does your mom understand by not being able to speak correctly? Does it limit her opportunities here opportunities here in North Carolina?

YC: Well North Carolina…mi mamá se confío mucho when she was living in Florida, because everyone spoke Spanish. She didn't aprovecho de las oportunidades. So then when she came here the majority of the people here is the opposite. They speak English so she missed out on like a lot of maybe promotion and job opportunities, because she is not able to express herself correctly in English.

KW: Is she currently doing anything to change that in any kind of way?

YC: No, not really.

KW: What is her… I guess job title currently? Is she currently employed?

YC: Yes, she is employed. She works at this… at a hotel with banquets. So like just say there is an event of a quince, sweet sixteen, quinceañera or like a business meeting; she is in charge of the people who are organizing the food for those events.

[00:19:02] KW: Does she mainly work with other Latinos?

YC: Yes.

KW: Okay, so she has mainly… her connections are through other Hispanics more then they are with Americans.

YC: Yes.

KW: How important do you think is for them to I guess… for Hispanics to like stay together within the state or within the community, so that they are able to not limited themselves with opportunities that are offer to any other Americans?

YC: Well power comes in numbers, obviously if the people don’t stick together or in a group then people are not going to take them seriously.

KW: So going back to what you mentioned about the roots, the culture and the dances. How do you see North Carolina like impacting that area of your Honduran, I guess identity? Like being a Hispanic in an American community?

YC: Well I guess since we are here in North Carolina is kind of harder. I know there’s like…I guess they do with the majority of the Hispanic population does which is mostly for me, I think it’s Mexican. So there is like a lot of Mexican stores and I feel like the only way Hondurans come is when it there’s different parties and nightclubs… I guess bring the Honduran groups, like dancing groups to these places.

KW: What about food wise? Do you feel like that is limited as well for Hondurans? Even if it is, I mean do you feel like its limited as Carrboro/ Chapel hill area or in the state of North Carolina? Have you not found a place that you can connect to your Honduran roots? Maybe like an international supermarket in Raleigh?

YC: well I don’t know of any areas near Carrboro/ Chapel Hill area. I know that there is a store here, I think there is like one but it just reminds me more of the Mexican culture. But I know that there is international supermarkets like what you said, an international supermarket where I can get a soda that's from Honduras and I will drink it and it reminds me of when I go visit there. I know that there is like restaurants that are like Salvadorian or Central American, where I can get the paliadas and the type of food.

KW: Talking about baleadas, what exactly is a baleadas? Like what is that?

YC: It’s like a tortilla de arina and frijol. There's different, there is simple and there is especial. Simple solamente tienen quezo, crema y frijoles fritos. La especial you add simple mas huevos revueltos y carne.

KW: Now are you able to have baleadas at homes? Does your mom?

YC: Yes! Of course. I bring my friends over and they love it! I know I brought my roommate over one time when my mom was making baleadas. She is like bring me again.

[00:22: 30] KW: That's too funny. I get excited when I get to try Colombian food as well, lord yes


Talk to me about what you said about your family moving here because of the cost of living. Do you…. How do you relate yourself to that? Do you feel like having a lower cost of living in North Carolina it is easier for Hispanics to be able to maintain themselves within the state or within a specific social status?

YC: Yes I feel like since it cost less to live here compare to bigger cities. A lot of the Hispanics communities are coming over here because is like.. Obviously if you are undocumented you don’t get a lot of like very well…very good jobs like lawyers, doctors or even jobs…I guess that have bachelor degree get. So coming over here where the cost of living is cheaper, it is beneficial for them. Especially because the types of jobs that they get.

KW: When you say a lot. Do you mean… Do you personally know a lot of people that have been moving here from other states?

YC: Yes, most of the people that I know are from different places. They are like from Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and they come here when they are like in high school or middle school because of job opportunities that their parents get.

KW: So you feel that the main purpose for moving to the state of North Carolina is for job opportunities?

YC: I feel like yeah.

[00:24: 02] KW: What kind of job opportunities have you heard of these people obtain as they moved to this state of North Carolina?

YC: Companies that they have been working for have a job here in North Carolina. Like big jobs that takes like 3 to 5 years to complete, maybe is like a construction job so they end up coming here. Then they end up liking it here so they just decide to stay.

KW: Have you seen mostly of the people doing construction then anything else?

YC: Yeah.

KW: Oh okay. You mentioned that you used too volunteer within the community but now you are working. Could you elaborate about like your job and what it is that you do?

YC: Okay, so I work for the center of dramatic art. I just like sort like through like color.... well there is like a theater in there. Its like the classroom where people who are in UNC, when they want to be theater majors, they go there. So there is a theater there so iI sort through different color lights and do simple task like that.

KW: How is this work of yours connection implementing ways for you to be able to move forward as a Latina in the community or within the future? Do you think this job will give you better job opportunities within the future?

YC: Well I guess having a job in college looks good in a transcript because you have experience. I know that there are some people that just study and they don’t want to go out and at least try to do something that is related to the real work. Actually it kind of motivates me because I don’t really like the job so it motivates me to get a better job. So I’m just like, this is just the beginning.

KW: So, I remember you mentioning that your dad is fluent. So by seeing your mom that has just a basic understanding of English and your dad being fluent. Do you find them in a different level when it comes interacting with the community or having a more establish social or financial situation?

YC: Oh yeah, my dad definitely earns more then my mother. My dad…. when it came to teachers, my dad would talk to the teacher so I guess he was more social.

KW: When you said teachers. What exactly does your dad do?

YC: When I am in what?

KW: You mentioned that when your dad talked to the teacher, and he would be more social.

YC: Just like more social period like in the community. If someone said something to him, he would like in English. He could reply back

[00: 27:12] KW: What exactly does your dad do when it comes to employment?

YC: So he works in a refinery, which is making gasoline.

KW: That's cool. Do you ever go see him?

KW: Yeah, I go see him all the time at his job. He has like a little office and then he goes out and mixed chemicals. He has this station; I think he works at this refinery Exxon. I guess like he has…. obviously he has a better paying job then my mother. She just works in a banquet in a hotel.

KW: So you mentioned that your family was born in Honduras. Do you ever have the opportunity to go back to Honduras?

YC: Oh yeah, all the time. Actually my parents were discussing with me if I wanted to go for the summer. I was kind of telling them not really because I really wanted to get classes done over the summer. But I definitely would think about it going maybe for Christmas again.

KW: How do you feel every time you go back? Do you feel like you are able to reconnect with your roots like you mentioned? Or what makes it so special?

YC: I don’t know, when I go to Honduras I feel like I am fulfilled. I don’t know why like I feel different when I am over there.

KW: In what ways?

YC: I feel like I am around people that understand me. Around people that have the same not only facial features. People that look like me but have the same interest. It’s just different, there are no words to describe it

KW: When you say interest and understanding. What exactly do you mean by interest and understanding?

YC: I mean we can tell each other jokes that I guess only people from that place would understand. There is just one joke…. I know that in America they have these 3D paintings that they do on the….like 2D paintings they do that they put 10 holes and then my cousins will be like "Oh is tres de aqui" because there is actually a real hole there. Is different.
Is like people here in the buses; they think its cramp but if they only knew over there how really cramp it gets. Its different things like you can talk about that people will not understand here

[00: 30:00] KW: I understand what you mean completely. How much of the actual population in Honduras speak English? Do you feel like they have a benefit, as a Hispanic do you feel you have a benefit being Honduran because they also speak English? Does it make it easier for you to transition your move from Honduras to the United States?

YC: What do you mean?

KW: You mentioned that some of the languages in Honduras are Spanish and English, and there is also an Indian.

YC: Yeah

KW: So since there is some of the basic knowledge in English in some of the areas in Honduras. Do you believe that is easier for Hondurans…. like Latinos that are from Honduras? Does the transition of moving from Honduras to the United States?

YC: Oh yeah, it is definitely easier. My brother he is an immigrants. Actually all of my siblings are immigrants. He was able to…. I think that one of my siblings was captured crossing the boarder and since he was able to speak English there was no way that they could trick him into signing any papers or anything. He wanted to speak to a lawyer and when he came over here. I think they gave him promotions bigger than other people who had been in different companies more because he could speak English

KW: You mentioned that he crossed the boarder, how difficult was that? Was he the only one in your family that did that?

YC: Most of my family members have done that

KW: Okay. How was that experience? Have you ever been related to such a thing?

YC: My sister. She always talks about she will never forget all the espinas de los cactuses that she got and didn’t realized until she got to Huston. She couldn’t believe how many espinas she had on her pierna. My brother talked about how he had never felt so much foot pain, because he decided to cross the boarder in converts. I don’t know why.

KW: Do you feel like that experience of crossing the boarder has change the way they see themselves?

YC: Obviously they are grateful. They try to do everything like now all my siblings and my parents are real. They try to do everything by the book and they try to like...They do everything, they try to live day by day because they don’t know when there days could be there last here. Try to take advantage of every opportunity they can

KW: Do you feel like most Latinos or most Hondurans try to take as much opportunities as they can while being in the United States or being in the state of North Carolina?

YC: I have..

KW: Like how have crossing the boarder affected them to the way they want to be able to take advantage of opportunities?

YC: Because it took them so much to get here I guess. They are more grateful that they are here. But I know that there is people that take that for granted. They go straight to work and they don’t even think about it and they just work, work, work, work. They don’t learn English and they don’t like…. Until they build their house and just leave.

[00: 33:32] KW: So what do you feel? What do you think you made your siblings feel different about that? What makes them be so grateful to wanting to learn English and wanting to fit more into the American lifestyle?

YC: Well I guess my siblings have always been interested in the American lifestyle because compare to most Honduras who come over here, my siblings have been pretty privileged. That’s what my mother would say. They went to private schools and they got the food that they wanted, and they got the clothes they wanted. When they crossed the boarder they realized that my ma was not going to help us, then they tried to take all the advantages that they could.

KW: So when they crossed the boarder, they did it alone?

YC: No, my she helped them but she told them that that my heritage, not my heritage. What is it called? Herencia para ti is helping you cross the boarder because she gave them all the options. You can either go to university privada con gastos pagados, buses included, and everything. Or you can cross the boarder but you chose one of the two and that would be my herencia para ti. But then she said after you do that and ya te quieres salir de la casa, you are on your own. So they did everything they could try to I guess live the way they lived in the past.

KW: While being here?

YC: While being here, yeah.

KW: How…. what do you feel it makes you different compare to your family that had to struggle so much coming here? You had the privilege to be born on this side of the boarder. How do you find yourself? Do you feel like you are any different then they are?

YC: Of course I feel different then they are because some times…. I would say do not have the same struggles that they have had. Sometimes the way I think its different then the way they think because they were raised over there.

KW: In what ways? How do you think they are different?

YC: I guess for my sisters, their number one priority is their family and their man. I do not think that; that is my number one priority. I have different number one priorities. Maybe is because I am not married yet and I don’t have a family yet. I don’t see that as my number one priority in life currently.

KW: What do you see as your number one priority?

YC: Well right now is to get my education.

[00:36: 29] KW: Do you… Is there anything else that you feel like is different? like that can make you different from being still considered a Latina but being born in the United States? Compared to your siblings and your mother that are considered to also Latinas but they were actually born in Honduras? Is there anything else that you guys don't think the same?

YC: There are many things, I just can’t think of any right now.

KW: Whether it has to do with the culture.

YC: Definitely culture and religion; definitely. I guess they are very conservative and I am very liberal. Like I am okay with gay marriage, but if you tell them…!Oh my God don’t!
I'm okay with tattoos, like if you wanted to get a tattoo I really don’t care. But if you tell them just wait… My mother will pour holy water on you. They are very conservative people.

KW: Why do you think that is? What do you think makes you guys so different?

YC: Well I guess here in the US is like very liberal. Everyone can do whatever they want and over in Honduras it was more like. Qué es?

KW: Traditional?

YC: Traditional, Latino Hispanic traditional. Since my siblings were in the private catholic schools, those traditions were insole in them.

[00:37:45] KW: So you defiantly see the difference between private education and public education?

YC: Yes.

KW: Did you go to private school when you were here before you attended Carolina?

YC: No.

KW: Do you feel like their way of interacting in the community is different then yours? Do they see differently when it comes to integrating in the community? Like in North Carolina?

YC: Yeah, I guess I can relate to anybody. Obvious if you… I don’t really care if you are gay or black. None of those things matter to me. For them, I feel like because they are Hispanic, not Hispanic… because they are a certain… They feel more confortable wit their own people. People who like relate to them, like if you see my friends they are more diverse than theirs.

KW: So they are not as opened minded as you are when it comes to friends and I guess community members?

YC: Yes.

KW: Is there anything that you would like to say or anything that you feel I could ask? Anything that could improve the responses? Is there anything that you would like to add to the interview when it comes to the Hispanic communities or the immigrant community as in general?

[00:39:25] YC: In general, Latinos should stick together period. If we want to advance as the people, then we need to stick together and understand that we have different roots and different views; but if we want to advance as the people here in America then we got to stick together. Get our message across.

KW: Together in what way? In what should we stick together?

YC: Together as in trying to put our differences aside and protest together… try to make laws together.

KW: You said protest towards what exactly?

YC: Things that we want.

KW: Such?

YC: Such as legalizing the 11 million undocumented people that are here and if we want to shut the boarders then shut them down. But we need to legalize, legalize people. Benefits I guess if you are going to legalize people; they need to have same benefits that American citizens have. Issues that preteen to the Hispanic communities.

KW: As in civil rights?

YC: Yes, just civil rights in general. If we… I know that there are immigration centers that are not clean and cold. They don’t treat people the same.

[00:40: 50] KW: Okay, so your talking about unfair treatments.

YC: Yes.

KW: To the Latino community?

YC: Yes.

KW: Have you ever experience any of those yourself?

YC: No. Not personality, no. But I hear people talking about it all the time here.

KW: People as in students or in the community?

YC: Just people in the community in general, friends and family.

[00:41:24] KW: Well thank you so much Yanexy for the wonderful interview. I really appreciate all of your responses and taking the time to meet with you to discuss and giving your opinion on this matter. I really appreciated.

YC: Your welcome Will see you tomorrow in Spanish class. Well actually I will see you later today, a las 4.