Laida Alarcón

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Interview Text and Audio

Abstract

Laida Alarcon is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in Global Studies and Peace War and Defense with a minor in Christian Studies and Culture. She is originally from Ecuador and the oldest of two children. She has lived in North Carolina for eleven years total, living in Charlotte, N.C. before coming to college. Because of Alarcon's lived experiences and tremendous academic motivation, she is able to provide insight into the educational, social, and home experiences of immigrant students in North Carolina. The content of the interview was intended to center around her high school educational experience; however, she focused much of her time on elementary school because that is when she first learned English. Alarcon highlights her progression from a bilingual elementary school to starting an International Baccalaureate program in the sixth grade. She also shows the segregation of her high school by portraying a cafeteria scene separated on racial and school classification boundaries. More specifically, she explains the stratification within the Hispanic community through the existence of a rebel group and a whitewashed group. Much of Alarcon's commentary centered on negative perceptions and stereotypes about immigrants and minority groups. She is firmly dissatisfied with the labels Latina and Hispanic and prefers to be identified as Ecuadorian instead. Alarcon strongly expresses her gratitude to her parents for the effort and support that gave in ensuring her academic and personal success.

R0653_Audio.mp3

Transcript

Raymond Sawyer: This is Raymond Sawyer. The date is April the 19th, 2013. This time is 11:17 am. We’re in a second floor office at the Morehead-Cain Foundation offices on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill. And I’m here with Laida Alarcon.
Laida Alarcon: Hello.
RS: Laida, thank you very much for being here today. And so to start off, can you tell me about yourself?
LA: Yeah. So my name is Laida. I am currently a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in Global Studies, Peace War and Defense, with a minor in Christian Studies and culture. I am nineteen years old, so I’m fairly young for my grade. I have a brother who goes here; he’s a first-year. And it’s just him and I. My parents live in Charlotte, which is where we reside. And I’m originally from Ecuador, from a very small town named Sucre.
RS: A small town in Ecuador. How long have you lived in North Carolina?
LA: Since 2002, so eleven years.
RS: And you came directly from Ecuador?
LA: Yeah. So Ecuador, Charlotte, and I’ haven’t been anywhere else.
RS: What were your parents’ motivation for settling in North Carolina?
LA: Well, my grandfather moved to New York with my grandmother—my dad’s side—in 1995 I think. I can’t remember the exact date. And then all my uncles and aunts followed suite after that, including my dad. And I think—this is just me making assumptions—but I believe that my dad really wanted to give my brother and I a good education. Just because in Ecuador the education system is not very strong and a degree from Ecuador can’t really get you too many things like in the United States. Whereas an American degree can get you places anywhere. So I feel that was part of his reasoning for moving in addition to the fact that there was--. We weren’t well off. We were doing ok in Ecuador, so I think he just wanted to provide us with a more stable economic situation, which was why he moved. But I’m just making assumptions.
RS: Ok, thank you. What would you say are the greatest challenges of immigration?
LA: For me I think the culture shock is probably the greatest challenge because I moved here when I was eight years old. So I was so used to speaking the same language as everyone. And the food and the traditions, and--just kind of the way of living was very different. I remember when I came here I was not used to being stuck at home all day, just because since I’m from a very small town in Ecuador I could go to the park whenever, and my mom would not be so preoccupied with my safety. My parents tend to be a little bit overprotective so, Charlotte was pretty big. And I felt very alone even though my cousins were there, and going to school was probably one of the hardest things I’ve done. The first day of classes I was so confused because they make you, like in--. I went to a bilingual elementary school here, which was great. My dad really worked hard for it. But they, instead of--. In Ecuador the professors or the teachers come to us. We just stay in the same classroom. But in elementary school we had to go find the classrooms and I was not used to that. So it’s like the little things. And I remember at the end of that first school day I was crying outside, outside the steps of the elementary school begging my dad to take me back home because I didn’t understand English. The English that I learned from Ecuador was very basic, just like sharpener, bathroom. So as a child I believe the challenge is just getting used to a new way of life. As an adult or parents or someone responsible, I think it’s just the fear that you’re not going to be able to maintain your family in a new environment. I feel that’s always something very stressful. And I’m sure my dad felt it too.
RS: Can you elaborate on what you mean by “maintain your family”?
LA: Provide housing, food, clothes, I think. Because the thing is my dad had already been here in Charlotte for a year before we moved. So he was pretty stable. But I feel that if a family moves all of its members at the same time it’s kind of hard to know exactly what’s going to happen with your future right away. And there’s always a pressure of family head to make sure you’re providing for your family. I can imagine how much harder that can be if you’re supposed to provide for your family in a country you don’t even know yourself.
RS: Interesting. Can you tell me your experiences as a high school student in North Carolina?
LA: Yeah. So something I’m really proud of: I actually learned English pretty quickly, in about three months when I was in elementary school. So I started at the IB program, International Baccalaureate, in sixth grade. So I had a very academic—not academic—educational background. So when I went to high school I already had a mindset I was going to college. I didn’t know what the college process was or how I would get there, but I knew that my academics were a big part of it. I was very dedicated. I was very into my books. I was always doing homework. Just, I was very organized with that. I wasn’t as involved during the first few years because, I don’t know why. I’ve always been really shy when I’m not around the people that kind of share same cultural traits. And I went to a predominantly white high school. So it was--I never felt very comfortable being there. I never felt very sure of myself. And the Hispanic population there was--. There was division within the Hispanic population. There was the group that was the rebel group, and they skipped school and they partied a lot. And I don’t think they had the intention or were told that they could go to college. And then there was the Hispanic quote/unquote “whitewashed” kids who just were in IB schools—or in IB classes—and hanging out with American people all the time. So, I never really felt comfortable at my high school. I never really liked it, so I was always focused on my books if that makes any sense.
RS: Yes. I’m interested to hear more about those two contrasting groups of Hispanic students that you mentioned: the rebel group and the whitewashed group. And I’m particularly interested in understanding why you gave those two particular labels to those groups.
LA: When I was in middle school I wanted to be like the rebel group. Like that’s what—I just called it because I felt that they defy their parents’ rules, so they’re kind of a rebel for me. And I don’t know why, I think that it was very peer pressure. Like I wanted to be like them. And then, I never felt included in that group just because I was not in their same classes and I had, I had like different goals than them. So they would just tell me, oh no you’re Hispanic but you kind of act white. And I’m like why, because I’m trying to, you know, get a good grade on my math exam? So I think the problem with the word whitewashed is that it implies that only American people, or like people of white color, can achieve high things. So that’s a side note. But I don’t think that the groups every got along. There’s clearly a divide and it’s along educational lines. And I think also socioeconomic status because I know a lot of people just want to work after high school because they want to make money. But for instance, my dad was—he never let me work because he knew that what I really wanted was college even if I really didn’t know. So they always encouraged me and never doubted that I would make it to college someday.
RS: I wonder, what do you think people’s perception is of Hispanic students? What is the generic standard that they expect from you, in your opinion?
LA: I don’t think it’s very high. I think that people expect Hispanics to just go to school and graduate high school, and that’s about it. It’s hard to—I mean there are some people who really want to get the Hispanic population higher in colleges, but I don’t think that most people expect anything out of us, especially if you are coming from a lower socioeconomic background or if you come from a certain country. They don’t have really high expectations for us I feel.
RS: Do you think that was reflected in the way that teachers would treat you?
LA: I don’t particularly think so, just because when I started middle school and high school I was already fluent in English. But I feel that if you start high school and you’re not fluent, they have lower expectations of you. So I never got that feel just because I knew what I was doing. I knew how to communicate and I knew what to do. But I guess back to your other question, I feel that if you’re an ESL kid--English as a second language kid--your expectations or the expectations other have of you are much much lower.
RS: I’m glad you brought up that. Can you talk about the ESL services that were available to you and at your school?
LA: So like I said, when I moved here I started--. I moved here in April, so I had the summer. And my dad would make us watch movies in English even though I didn’t know what they were saying. He would make us read books just for pronunciation. So when I started school in August I thought I was doing well, but you know I really wasn’t. And the, I think the beauty of it was that I went to a bilingual elementary school which I’m really thankful for. And I know I’m really blessed to have had that chance because I was comfortable in my Spanish classes and I knew I could do better in my English classes. And if I had a problem I could talk to my math teacher, who was from Ecuador. She spoke Spanish so she was a lot of help. And the ESL program was so, it was just so well organized and so efficient in the way that they made us learn English. And I was also very young so I felt like I could learn much quicker. So yeah, so I just feel that I personally had a good ESL program. I know in high school it wasn’t that intense. It was very, it was more of like do yourself, like here’s this and you learn it. Whereas, for me I was immersed in two different cultures, in two different languages. So that helped me a lot more.
RS: So where ESL services on a one-on-one basis with the student and teacher or was there and actual class setup? How did that work?
LA: For my, like during my elementary years or high school?
RS: High school, please.
LA: I, actually I don’t really know how they did it. I know if they did it anything like typical ESL classes would be, it would be just--. It would definitely not be one-on-one because my high school was pretty large. And there was a good Hispanic population, you know. Like I don’t know—I can’t make a percentage up--but it wasn’t that strong, but it was still present. So I think it would be like just a regular classroom. I don’t think high schools or my high school had the capacity to provide one-on-one for every ESL student that really required.
RS: Thank you. I’d like to go back to something you talked about before when you mentioned that you went to a predominantly white high school. And I was wondering if you could describe for me the cafeteria scene during a typical lunchtime.
LA: Segregation. It was very segregated. The way my cafeteria was set up there was a big cafeteria and a small cafeteria. And then you could also eat outside. There were tables outside. So most of the time the seniors ate outside and the small cafeteria was literally reserved for minority students. It was like all minority students were there. And I used to eat in the large cafeteria because there was space. So it was always like seniors in the same group, and then seniors of American background. And then Hispanics were on one side, and then you would have African American people. And then there would be division within their class rank. So it was just, it was very segregated. You could definitely see it when you walked in because the color was very divided amongst the students.
RS: Did anyone ever break those boundaries and sit with other groups or anything like that?
LA: Yeah. I think so. I had a good amount of African American and Asian friends so I would sit with them. And I mean there’s--. I mean it’s not like delineated like this is it, segregation. Like you could always move around, but if you look at it naturally they would self-segregate. But I’m sure there’s people who had friends of different backgrounds and sit with them at lunch.
RS: you mentioned that you were in the IB program in high school and so I imagine that that experience is a little different than a typical student who’s in the normal classes for high school. So, in your experiences if I was to sit in the back of your classroom—be a fly on the wall or something—what type of interactions would I witness between the various demographics of students? So whether that’s based on race or socioeconomic status, how would they interact with each other?
LA: Well another about my high school, it was located—it’s a magnet school. So like the IB program was very crucial to it. And it was also zoned in a very wealthy neighborhood so most of the kids who went there, whether IB or not, where from a wealthy background. But it was also near a zone of lower socioeconomic status, and that’s kind of where the Hispanics came from and the African American people. And that’s just like a broad generalization that I’m making. If you would sit in the class you would see that there is--. There were mostly white people. They were pretty wealthy for the most part. You would have the occasional one or two Hispanic, you know one or two African American students in the class. The interaction with the teacher I felt was the same. I never saw a preference for anyone. I was pretty talkative too so I think they all liked me. But it’s something like--. I felt that even though we were all in the same class we were still being judged because--at least I felt like I was often judged for my ethnicity. Or if I didn’t—I don’t know maybe it’s weird but I think that sometimes people just forgot that we were Hispanics like selectively. Like when they wanted to say something they would just forget that we were Hispanic, but when they needed something like Spanish help they would remember that I speak Spanish and I’m from Ecuador. I thought it was very--. The chemistry, the dynamic with other students was very interesting. But it was hard for me also to be a minority within a minority group, because I was a female Hispanic woman in a classroom with—there were a lot of males in that class.
RS: So being a minority within a minority group.
LA: Yeah.
RS: Wow. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard somebody phrase it quite like that. That’s very interesting. What other problems do you notice immigrant students facing?
LA: I think, well I’m going to speak from my experience, but something that I really found very challenging was the fact that as immigrant student I was first generation college student. So the college process was just such a mystery to me. I remember being junior year and people were talking about applying to Carolina, applying to Duke. And I remember thinking, what are they talking about. I knew nothing. And over the summer I literally had to like dedicate myself to learning because my parents were, they were always very encouraging but they didn’t know. They had no idea. And my dad went to college in Ecuador but it was very different. It was just registration, that’s it. And trying to find scholarships and how to pay for tuition was always, was another obstacle. So in terms of education, I think that attempting to get a higher education is always a struggle for an immigrant kid, especially if your parents are first—if you are a first generation college student of lower economic background. It’s a little bit—it’s actually very stressful.
RS: So how impactful were your guidance counselors or your teachers in helping you through that process.
LA: I don’t remember meeting with my guidance counselor a lot. I didn’t--. I went to her like a couple of times and she was helpful, but it’s not clear in my mind what she did for me. I don’t think she had that big of an impact if I can’t remember what she did exactly. I remember—actually I don’t even know how we learned about college. I asked my cousin who—she went to—I think she went to South Carolina maybe for college. I don’t know where. But she was kind of helpful. For the most part it was kind of just me hearing from other friends, and that’s how I learned mostly. I don’t think, I don’t think I ever saw my guidance counselor as much as I should have.
RS: Another question I’d like to ask: earlier you mentioned that you had a math teacher who was from Ecuador that helped you a lot. Can you elaborate on how they helped you and what that relationship was like?
LA: Yeah. She was, well she knew my dad and my mom because of me. So she was always kind of telling them what they should do to make sure my brother and I were doing okay in school. And if I had any questions about why something was going on like in English class, she would like answer the question. And she always pointed me to different books and resources that I could use. And she was just there. Literally if I had a question I knew I could just go ask her. But I also had a great English teacher. He was so nice. He was really friendly and he worked with us ESL kids and he would also give us books to read. And then the--. I think the person who had the biggest impact on me was my ESL teacher. She was just so sweet and so caring. She tried to have one-on-one with every one of us. We were not a big elementary school, so she could make room for it. But I felt really connected with her because I personally did not want to have as much interaction with Spanish speakers because I didn’t think it would help me learn the language. So I tried to speak very choppy English to her and eventually it just got better. So.
RS: If you don’t mind me asking, were all of these teachers Hispanic? The ones you just referred to.
LA: No. The Spanish teachers were Hispanic and then there were--. The teachers who spoke English, most of them were white. There were a few African American. I don’t think there were any other nationalities or ethnicities or races represented.
RS: And so in retrospect, was it easier for you to talk to certain teachers because you felt you could identify with them better than others?
LA: Yeah, I think so. At least at first I was more willing to speak with my math teacher just because not only did she share my language but she shared my country with me. So I was more open with her than I was with other teachers. But then eventually as my English got better I was more open to speaking with other people just because I wanted to practice. So yeah.
RS: Very interesting. How would you say the demographic makeup of your teachers was when you were in high school?
LA: Mostly, yeah they were mostly white. I want to say mostly females too. My Spanish teacher one year, she was of American background and like her Spanish was not that good. So that kind of shocked me because I thought that coming from like an IB school you would have people who actually speak the language that they are trying to teach. But for the most part there were lots of females. They were all, I think they all had short hair. Maybe I’m just making that up. But they were really nice, but there was not that much diversity. The gym teachers were mostly men, and yeah. I think it was very rare. And everybody had crushes on some of the men teachers. Yeah, high school.
RS: High school, yes indeed. So you talked earlier about some of the challenges immigrants students face. You spoke specifically about your time applying for college and learning about college. How would you say that the challenges that immigrant populations face—how is that the same or different to other populations of students, specifically African Americans?
LA: Well I think there is often a low expectation of what immigrant people can achieve, and there also is like a low view of their capacities. And I feel that something is often, it’s often just mirrored in every minority group. So I think that the immigrant population like the African American population share the, the—I don’t know how to call it—the, the journey of proving people wrong, of proving people that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Because people hold stereotypes and they have very low expectations of you. And they put you in this box of what you can accomplish, not knowing who you are. So in a way I feel that the struggle has been just being able to challenge that. And not just to prove them wrong but to challenge yourself as well and to grow as a person. Because ultimately it’s going to benefit you. I feel that oftentimes when I talk to some of my friends, they feel that no one expects anything out of African American males. No one expects them to go to college. They expect them to do all these negative—like killings and violent things. And it’s similar with Hispanic men. And it’s similar if you go to another country and you see a different minority population. So I feel like the majority of us wants to put chains on the minority and that’s a generalization. But I feel that a lot of the majority wants to do that. So.
RS: If I may elaborate a little bit more; you talked about how you want to prove people wrong and you have to prove that you are capable of greatness. How do you do that but still maintain your own identity and keep from being quote/unquote “whitewashed”?
LA: I, well I--. Even within my family like I did see some people challenging what I could do. The thing with my identity is that because I realized—because I had such a culture shock when I moved, I’ve always been proud of being Ecuadorian. Like I’ve always embraced it. I’ve never hidden it. I, I’m very just conscious of who I am as a person so coming into like any educational system, coming into college I knew that I would never let go of who I am just because my parents are always talking about Ecuador. They play like--. Every Saturday morning my dad wakes me up with Cumbia music. So it’s just so present in my life that I’ve really come to terms with the fact that there’s nothing that I love more than my culture. So yes I am in the higher education system, but I don’t think that means I have to let go of who I am or like adapt to the majority of the people who come to college. So I’m very proud of being Ecuadorian.
RS: You seem to have a very successful educational experience from the time that you came to North Carolina up until the present. Do you feel your experience is traditional or an exception or do you think it’s the norm?
LA: I think it’s the exception because I know—we’re talking about stereotypes—I know that people don’t expect much of minority men but they do not expect much more from minority women. So the tradition, it’s the sad truth, but the tradition often seems to be that Hispanic women or a lot of young minority women they get pregnant, they get married at a very young age. So no one really considers going into college or into some other kind of educational background because they don’t have the means or they don’t have the support from their parents or family. And that’s the thing that I’m very lucky to have, that my parents never doubted me going to college. They really got that embedded into my brother’s and mine mentality, so we never questioned that we knew we could make it. And that’s why I think it’s the exception because not everyone has that, those supportive parents who would do everything to make sure that their kids get to college.
RS: Thank you. You mentioned before the sense of pride that you had and how your father would wake you up with music on Saturday mornings and different things like that. Do you feel that the educational experience you had made you proud of who you were? The things that you learned in history class or whatever the subject may be, did you feel proud to be who you were or were there moments where you seemed to retract a bit?
LA: I don’t think it was the educational system. I think it was more of the societal experiences because when I was learning I was just focused on learning the material and analyzing it. It was more of the experiences outside of the classroom that kind of shaped my culture. It was coming into this country and seeing that there’s so much other like nationalities and cultures and whatnot. Because I remember in Ecuador I never thought—unless there was a soccer game against Argentina or something—I never really like kept saying oh I’m Ecuadorian because it was assumed because I was in Ecuador. But coming here, like I said societal experience was that there’s so many other people so many diverse backgrounds that I have to establish who I am. So that’s kind of when I grew closer to my Ecuadorian roots, when I moved here. And when I was labeled Latina or Hispanic—which I have a problem being labeled like that—but that made me even more cultural aware, more cultural proud. So in terms of like being in high school or college, I don’t think the learning or the sitting in the classroom has made me more cultural proud. I think it’s the experiences that have come around that, if that makes sense.
RS: You mentioned that you don’t like being labeled Latina or Hispanic.
LA: No.
RS: Can you elaborate please?
LA: Ask me about my thesis? Ok, I’m writing my honors thesis on the Mexicanization of Hispanic culture, and what I’m trying to show is that--. Ok so Mexicanization it’s, it hasn’t been really researched a lot which is something that I’m kind of--. I found this hole in academia that I’m trying to fill. So Mexicanization it’s the attribution of Mexican qualities to all Hispanic people or people who look Hispanic. Like saying, like looking at someone and saying oh you must be Mexican because you have dark hair and dark eyes, or assuming that they eat tacos all the time or that their family wears sombreros. Things like that, that’s Mexicanization in my terms. So I’m trying to show that Mexicanization is very harmful to Mexican culture because it provides this Americanized stereotypical definition of their very rich, just very robust culture. And then it’s also very harmful to Hispanic culture because it flattens who we are into one label, Hispanic. There’s no way to condense South and Central American into one label because we’re very different. Ecuadorian culture is very different from Argentinian culture, and people from Uruguay have very different traditions than people from El Salvador. So I don’t like being label Latina or Hispanic because it’s not really who I am. Like I’m more Ecuadorian than anything else. So yeah, that’s my research.
RS: Thank you so much for sharing that. I’m going to take a left turn if I may. How do you feel your educational experience would have been different if you were a male?
LA: I think if I was a male I would probably be the same. The reason why I’m saying this is because I have my brother to look at, and he is literally doing the same thing I am. He’s in college. He’s really dedicated to his work. He wants to do big things. So I don’t think it would have changed much because my parents have treated my brother and I the same in terms of education. So I think I would still be here and I don’t think I would be somewhere I was not trying to get a degree.
RS: Thank you. So now I’m going to pose a question for you, and I want you to be as thorough as you choose. If you were given an unlimited fund devoted to improving the educational experiences for Latino immigrant students in North Carolina, what measures would you take?
LA: Wait, can you repeat that question one more time?
RS: Yes. If you were given an unlimited fund—as much money as you needed, as much money as you wanted—and the money was devoted to improving the educational experience for Latino immigrant students in North Carolina. What measures would you take?
LA: The first thing that comes to my mind is helping those that do not have documents, undocumented students. Because I know there is a lot of students who would love to go to college and they would love to have money to pay for college. And they are unable to do so. So I think one of the measures I would take is to make sure I target that population and tell them there’s a way that I can offer them help, that I can help them achieve their goal. And then I would also work on programs that encourage--. I think mentorship for education is crucial so I would love to have some kind of program that tells these kids, the students that they are more than just a job after high school. That they can do more than that. Just because they might not have the means economically speaking or their parents support doesn’t mean that they can’t be successful. So I don’t know exactly right now how I would go about that, but I would love to have just a safe zone for the students to just hear encouraging words and know that there’s people who believe that they can accomplish greater things.
RS: I’m really interested in what you said, the mentorship and then the documents. And so do you think one has to occur before the other?
LA: I don’t think so. I know many people who hadn’t had any mentorship in their life or any support from anyone and they still have a mindset of doing great things. And then the documentation: I don’t know much about it as I’d like to pretend I do, but I think that you don’t really need documents sometimes. I know of two people who are attending college and they don’t have documents. So I don’t think they have to be in sync or they have to work together. There’s so many different varieties of what can happen, so many different situations that can come from it. I don’t think its binary, so.
RS: What about students who don’t have a desire to go to college? Maybe they do want to work. Do you think that there is success in that pathway as well?
LA: Yeah, yeah. I don’t want to make it seem like I believe that taking a job after high school and not going to college makes you less of a person. I think it’s more about you being able to choose what you want. If you want to do that that’s fine, but if you—innerly or inwardly you always wanted to go to college and you just have never been given any support then you know we are here for you. But everyone, as long as everyone is happy in their own skin I think that is what matters the most.
RS: Could you ever see yourself going back to Ecuador to live?
LA: I want to go back to visit I think. I’m not sure if I could live there anymore because what I have in mind for my life, it’s outside of Ecuador. Just because most of what I remember it’s here, in the United States. I’ve been back to Ecuador two times, in 2006 and 2007, and they were very different experiences. I remember the first time I went back I couldn’t recognize my town and I couldn’t recognize the people. And it was just very--. I love that place but I didn’t feel like I could live there for a long time. Whereas now that I think about it, I still don’t see myself being there. I think that what I have—like the expectations of myself—are more grounded here than anywhere else.
RS: Could you elaborate on what you see for your future, what steps you want to take?
LA: Yeah. So I have a big aspiration. I want to go to law school and study humanitarian law and then work in the United Nations to eradicate human trafficking. So that’s like my ultimate peak goal. I’m also very interested in student affairs so if the United Nations doesn’t work—which hopefully it will—I’ll probably be somehow engaged in admissions. I love admissions. And I would also like to be--. I just really like to help people so I wouldn’t mind working in a nonprofit organization or going abroad and helping with development. And development is kind of—not development in like I need you to help me but if there’s anything you need me to help you with based on what you feel comfortable with, then I would love to help out. So.
RS: That’s great aspirations. If you had to sum up your education experience in one sentence what would that one sentence be?
LA: I think it would be, “I am lucky to have my parents’ support and to be surrounded by people who believe in me.”
RS: I definitely tricked you a little bit. I asked you for a one sentence summary, but now I’m going to ask you to elaborate. Why was parental support the thing you chose to highlight?
LA: I don’t think I can articulate how important my parents are to me and the impact they’ve had on my life ever since I can remember. If I hadn’t had my parents’ support, I really would have done whatever I pleased, and a fifteen year-old girl cannot really know what she wants because she’s more preoccupied with partying and going out and going to the movies and who knows what. So the fact that my parents kept me grounded, it’s the reason why I’m here. I have no doubt about it. Their support and like all the hard work they put to get my brother and I here: to provide us with books to read, and if we had to go to a play he would take us. If we needed to go somewhere for a class project he would be so dedicated to it. And my mom would always be there if I had like an art project she would help me stay up late at night to help me. So the reason that I chose to include parental support was because literally without them I wouldn’t be here. So.
RS: That’s awesome. So as we get ready to wrap up, is there any final comments you would like to share?
LA: Yeah. I think that the experience of immigrant kids, or immigrant students, it’s--. I don’t think it’s an issue that many people want to talk about. I think often very just thrown into the shades. Until someone has the energy, the courage to speak up, no one’s really going to do anything. So I think there’s a lot to be done about making sure that immigrant kids from all backgrounds--not just Hispanic but Asian, African--. Even within the United States there‘s a lot of people that don’t follow their education dreams, so I think that there’s so much work to be done. That we all have to put a little bit of effort to make sure that everyone has the same opportunities.
RS: Thank you very much for that insight. Again, this is Raymond Sawyer and I’m here with Laida. Laida thank you so much for your time today.
LA: No problem.
http://dc.lib.unc.edu/utils/getfile/collection/sohp/id/18216/filename/18258.pdf