Oscar X, pseud.

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Oscar is an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pursuing dual degrees in Global Studies and Psychology. Oscar is originally from Connecticut, but moved Wilmington, North Carolina when he was in the third grade. His mother was born and raised in Guatemala and his father is of Puerto Rican descent but was born in New York. In this interview, Oscar shares his thoughts on education, especially his own education compared to that of his parents, and the importance of education for the Latino community.



Olivia Miller: My name is Olivia Miller. I'm interviewing Oscar today in Lenoir Hall on the campus of UNC- Chapel Hill. It's about 5:45 on Sunday, April 17th. So, I guess just to get started, can you tell me about your family background a little bit?
Oscar: Okay, my mother is from Guatemala and all of her family is there right now. And my dad, he's Puerto Rican but he was born in New York, the Bronx, New York, but his parents are from Puerto Rico.
OM: Alright and how long has your mom lived in the U.S.? When did she come to the U.S.?
O: Let's see, I'm 21. So she's been here for like 22 or 23 years.
OM: And do you know, why did she decide to come?
O: Yes. It was kind of random. She has four brothers and all of them are doctors and one went to go study in Mexico. One went to go study-- and they're all brilliant and one went to go study in Connecticut in the US and the other went to go study in Germany. And my mother, she just finished like her education in Guatemala so she was licensed to be a pharmacist but she decided to go visit her brothers for like three months. So she went to Mexico, Connecticut, then Germany. And then when she came back to Connecticut she thought she could do some work there to raise up some money so that she could bring it back to try and open up her pharmacy in Guatemala but then she met my dad. And then she got pregnant. [Laughter] And then when my father found out that she was pregnant, he kind of like left. And so she was faced with like the choice of "do I--" and by this time like her brother that was in Connecticut already returned to Guatemala. So she was faced with the choice of "should I stay here and raise this child and I don't even know anybody. Or should I go back to my home country where my family is?" But she chose to stay here because 1. She thought of the educational opportunities that I would have had and just safety. It's a lot safer here than in Guatemala. And another big reason for her was the fact that I didn't have a dad. And children in Guatemala who don't carry the last name of their father are just not really treated well. They're kind of looked down upon and she didn't want that.
OM: And does your mom live in North Carolina now or is she still in Connecticut?
O: She lives in Wilmington, North Carolina. When I was about nine years old, my dad came back and [laughter] they got married and then we moved to North Carolina.
OM: Do you have any siblings?
O: I do not. I'm an only child.
OM: Okay, so I guess you told me a little bit about your mom's educational background. What's your dad's educational background?
O: My father, he went to UConn (University of Connecticut) for about like two years then he stopped. Then he came to North Carolina and he went to UNC-W for [laughter] a really long time, like 10 years, because he was working and like going to school. But I believe he ended up getting like a Bachelor's in Computer Science. But he like, is constantly trying to go back to school to just get like another degree but it hasn't really been working out. But yeah, he's the only one of his brothers who actually went to college.
OM: Did your mom do any continuous education once she got to the U.S.?
O: Yes. She eventually got an associates in either Chemistry or Biochemistry. But she's like certified as a pharmacist technician in one of the hospitals.
OM: And from what you've talked about with your mom about her education, what was the quality of the education that she received in Guatemala?
O: Urn, I think pretty well. It was pretty good. She- For my uncles, they, they were all really brilliant so they all got like scholarships and they went to like the best universities there and they even got scholarships to go abroad and stuff. And I think my mom got some scholarships too to go to a pharmacy school. I know at first she was going to school to be a kindergarten teacher but eventually she changed and just went through like pharmacy school. And I mean I think it was fine. All the schools there are specialized more or less, just for like kind of the medical field. So-
OM: So for your mom's family, were they- Was it common for most people to finish high school and go on to college in the area that she's from in Guatemala or was her family a little bit unique in that aspect?
O: Uh my family's definitely unique. They're all like that 2% of Guatemalans that's pretty well off. But like they come- they came from a really poor family background. Like a single-parent, alcoholic father and so from the very beginning they all had to be like really responsible. And for them, education basically defined like your success. And so education, education, and like making it to the top.
OM: So like what is the typical education level for everybody else kind of where they're from?
O: Uh, I would say kind of similar to that of- well I don't know about like the stats for like immigrants here in the U.S. but like 5th grade or below? Like just, it's all about if you have the money. Like, the good schools are the private schools. And like, granted the government has like national schools that are free but for one the quality of those schools are just not that great and even though they're said to be free, you still have to buy like the uniform and the books and some people just don't have the money for that.
OM: So I guess what are the expectations for educated people, people who have degrees? Are their jobs in Guatemala for them?
O: The main jobs- To be a doctor. To be a lawyer or some sort of businessman. That's what I would say like the main three ones are. And I think there is an expectation now to kind of come over to the U.S. Some of my cousins, that's their ambitions. And actually, yeah, one is actually in Connecticut right now and he's like the head of like this dentist like school and he's controlling it all. And I know one of my cousins like studied in Harvard for like two years to be an anesthesiologist or what not.
OM: And are those jobs just not available in Guatemala? Like why is there an ambition to come to the U.S. instead of stay and kind of build up where they're from?
O: A lot of it has to do with--I don't know, at least for my family, safety. Because Guatemala is- I think it just- a stat just came out and it was like Guatemala has the highest like murder rate of all of Latin America or something like that. And so safety's just becoming like a big issue. Um so there's that push to like get out of there. And I think you just kind of make better money in the U.S.
OM: So how's education viewed in Guatemala compared to how it's viewed in the U.S.?
O: Well I think it depends on like what perspective you're coming from in Guatemala. For my family, like I said, education kind of defines what your success is. Like the more education, the more successful you'll be-and the type of education. Like there's a difference between if you want to study psychology or like medicine. You study medicine, it's more like prestigious. Um but for like the sector, like of the people in Guatemala who don't have like the means of getting a good education, I don't know. I think--I mean I'm sure everyone would kind of want it but--I don't know. And I'm also thinking in Guatemala there's a big indigenous population too who's like completely marginalized from like any type of like system. And so for them--I don't know. I don't really know. Could you ask like-I don't know, I'm not really answering you're question.
OM: Yeah, I guess just for people- I mean you answered it pretty well. Just you know how certain communities view education. Is it really important for some or are there different priorities within--?
O: I think there are different priorities. Especially for the ones living in poverty. Their priority is being able to get like food, not really worrying about saving money to go to school. Although like once you are able to have like-- to be kind of secure in terms of like shelter and like your meals then I'm sure that's going to be your next thought, like education for your kids.
OM: And are private schools and even you know, higher education, is that pretty expensive in Guatemala?
O: Hmm, I would say relative to the people who are in the poverty line. And which is a lot of people. So I would say kind of.
OM: So I guess back to your parents. What are your parents' thoughts on the education that they received? Do they wish they had more? Are they satisfied with the degrees that they've attained?
O: Um my dad seems the one who's not satisfied. He's constantly always worried- I don't know. He always says that he should have majored in like something else or-Because he's just thinking about the job market now and like how his computer science degree hasn't really gotten him anywhere. And my dad's been laid off like a lot of times and I think that's a big reason why he keeps trying to go back to school just to make himself more marketable. My mom, I think she seems pretty satisfied except for the fact that when she got to the U.S., the U.S. didn't recognize her being like a pharmacist. So she would have like had to start all over again which she couldn't one, for like money, two for like language. But she did eventually get an associate's degree regardless of the language barrier which thinking about that now is like pretty impressive. So yeah, she made it to like a pharmacist technician type status. And I think a little while ago she'd thought about going back to school and doing something with chemistry but I think she realized she's like 55 so there's like kind of, you know, a limit.
OM: So you were talking about kind of your mom's family background and how- so how was education presented to them by their parents? Or did they just see as a result of their parents they wanted to do opposite?
O: Um so my mother's mother, so my grandmother, died when my mom was five. So my mom doesn't really- I haven't really heard too much about my grandmother. All I know is that my grandmother was a kindergarten teacher. And then my grandfather, he was a social worker who did a lot with like working with the indigenous communities and stuff like that but social workers don't get a lot of money, so they didn't really have a lot of money and there were four of them. And I think that type of living condition that they were in really encouraged my mother and her brothers to get a better education. And her father, my grandfather, definitely encouraged them to do so and was very supportive. But it was really them having to encourage each other at times because my grandfather also suffered from alcoholism so like I said, from a young age, all of them had to be like more responsible. Especially, I think, my mom's older brothers were the ones that were like always telling her like you need to go to school, do your homework, like telling her what's the next step that she needed to do. Which, in a way, kind of made her like a little dependable on her brothers.
OM: So they kind of acted as role models?
O: Yeah.
OM: Okay so she's the youngest of all four?
O: Yes.
OM: Got it. So what are your thoughts on the education your parents received? Do you ever compare or relate their educational experiences to yours?
O: Oh yeah, definitely. I mean on many different levels I think, especially being at UNC where I just feel like it's really trying to offer me a very global perspective and well-rounded perspective of different issues and topics. Where I feel like where my mom was coming from it was very specialized in the types of things that she was learning to be a pharmacist. It just like kind of specialized in that type of field. And then my father who's just always just been like-I don't know. Yeah he got a degree in computer science but then he kind of fickled around like trying to do like other things. So a difference between being like kind of specialized and then not being like totally specialized. And then me just--I don't know. Having my education like college education being a little bit more stable and like not as limited or restricted to certain topics, if that makes sense?
OM: Yeah. So in a couple of other interviews I've done there's been different kind of dynamic with the way education was presented to women and men, especially in their home countries in Central America. Did your mom ever find, you know, that difference between her and her brothers where her father or her mother kind of presented education differently to them based on that?
O: Urn, I don't know. Like I said, I know like at first my mom was going to be a kindergarten teacher. Which I think is like the expected role for like women and the expected role for men are definitely like more in the medical profession. But I actually think like being a pharmacist that- in Guatemala it seems like that's kind of-- its okay for women to be pharmacists. I don't know when I always thought of like a pharmacist growing up, I always thought of like the woman in uniform. Where as I know a lot of people think of like the man in uniform when you think of a doctor.
OM: So what influence have your parents had on your education?
O: They've had a lot of influence. Growing up in Connecticut, my mom was all about like getting me to like the right school. I was involved in the head start program in one of the cities in Connecticut where there were a lot of minority kids but she wanted me to be a part of that so I could like, you know, get a head start learning the alphabet or like spelling or what not. And then I started first grade in this city in Connecticut, Meriden. But Meriden- it's kind of a big city and there was a problem with like violence and like teen gangs and my mom did it like that. Especially- because, I don't know, it just reminded her of like kind of Guatemala City life. So we ended up moving to where my father's parents are in Connecticut as well. We ended up moving with them and their still in Connecticut, but like a really small town. It's actually like a village. It's called Higganum, in the town of Haddam. And [laughter] they were like the only colored anything so it was like really small and like rural and I went to--I went to first grade, second grade, and half of third grade there. And yeah, I started kindergarten in Meriden. And it was like very calming. And they were just all like really supportive, my mom was. And then when my dad came back and they got married and we moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, I went- I had to start the second half of third grade in this elementary school called, I don't know, like JC Rowe. Which is like completely different because there were a lot of like minority kids and I just wasn't really used to that. So that was kind of like-- and there was just like a different attitude there that I wasn't used to. And needless to say, it wasn't like the best school. And at the end of my third grade year, the principal actually contacted my family and I still don't really understand why but she strongly encouraged them to transfer me to a better elementary school just because she felt like I would do a lot better there. And which they did. So fourth grade and fifth grade I went to this different elementary school. It was like a lot more safer and calmer and closer to my home. And yeah, then middle school and high school. And throughout this whole time my parents were-- they were pretty encouraging. I wasn't like the best student until like high school but my mom would always get on me about like doing well on tests and like just studying and just saying you know, how do you expect to go to college if you're not going to be focused and stuff like that. And I mean eventually I got it. In high school I was like really focused. But I think the only kind of conflict that occurred between my parents and I in terms of like what direction I wanted to go with my education, was like in college. Because I left high school with this idea of being a chemist or studying chemistry because I really liked chemistry and I was pretty good at it. So for my first two years at UNC I was a chem. major but I just started realizing that it just didn't really complement kind of my values and stuff and I started leaning more towards like the social work kind of area, or psychology, like social work and psychology. Which, when I kind of told my mom about it at the end of my first year it really freaked her out. She got really upset. Yeah, she was really upset and she was like "if I had known this I never would have stayed in this country. How are you just going to like end up doing something where you're not going to get a lot of money." And like for her it's just this fear of being like-- she didn't express it like that but it's like this fear of not being financially secure. And my father kind of had the same worry because his family kind of struggled as well and he was just worried about me not being financially stable. So that was the end of my first year here and that kind of influenced my decision to keep it up with chemistry, or not even chemistry, I think I changed it to like environmental health science or like nutrition. It's not so scientific but it's still like science-y and medical-y but it's still like related to people which ended up not being the best choice because I took classes that I didn't really like and I didn't do that great in them. And by the end of my sophomore year, I had to tell my parents that, you know, I'm going to do psychology and global studies because it's what's meaningful to me. I realized that they just didn't seem to understand that there were other fields of study other than just the typical chemistry, biology. It's like those were the key terms that they're looking for and they kind of, more or less, understand what that means. It's like oh chemistry, go in the lab. I can better grasp what that is. But things like global studies, what is that? Or like public policy. What does that mean? What are you going to do? And that kind of like ambiguity kind of like freaked them out. But slowly but surely, I've been proving to them like what I can do with my psychology major and all that stuff.
OM: So do you feel there's a need to prove it to them? Do you ever feel pressure to please them? Especially--
O: Yeah, like yeah. Even though I think more now, they say, like its okay, my decision. But I mean I do feel like I can't let them down and I think another big issue I dealt with is like being an only child and having that responsibility to take care of my mom and my family. And when I go to Guatemala, last year and the year before that, and talking to my family over there, to my mom's brothers, all of them kind of like freaked out as well when they knew I wasn't going to do chemistry. And they were like, how are you going to support your mother? That was the biggest thing they were telling me. If you're going to be a social worker, tell me how you're going to support your mom. And I don't know, I wasn't really thinking about that, and that sounds kind of selfish because here I was just like-- everyone was saying you need to do what you like and stuff. Which, I mean, is true. But from their perspective it's like how are you going to have the money to help your mom out when she like can't work. And so I had to like kind of struggle through that and stuff.
OM: Definitely. I found that in other interviews as well. That it's often a cultural thing, as far as education, getting that education to be able to support a family or, you know, stay close with your family so that's something you've definitely found?
O: Yeah, definitely. Even going to school three hours away from home is very strange to my family in Guatemala. Because the kids go to school, or the university, and then they come back home. And yeah, that was really hard for my mom too when I came here. And like I said, being an only child, it was just me and I left. So it's been very strange but I mean she's gotten used to it.
OM: So are your parent's expectations for you to get your bachelor's degree, do they expect more?
O: PhD! [Laughter] Yeah once I finally convinced them that I'm doing psychology or mental health kind of route, they accepted it but my mom's like "but you know you need to get your PhD." So that's like kind of the new thing. She throws that out there every once in awhile. And I mean I-- that is my aspiration and ambition, to eventually get a PhD but when I say like I think after college I'm going to take a year off, that kind of freaks them out. And like I'm going to get my masters and do some work. They're like why don't you just go and get your PhD. They definitely don't have any experience with grad school or that PhD track so I don't think they really understand- like you can't just go and get a PhD! [laughter] So yeah.
OM: So what are your parents views on the U.S. education system compared to Guatemala? Was going to university in Guatemala ever an option?
O: Urn, I mean my mom; she says it's so much better here. Like just the quality of the education and the safety. That's always a big thing too. Just quality of the education and just like safety. It's like much safer to stay here and to go to school here and to move about the cities here. So yeah. I don't know, she's all for education in the U.S.
OM: You were talking a little bit about her language- like a language barrier when she first got to the U.S. Did that ever- was that a challenge, you know, growing up in school and being able to have, you know, that support system, you know, and your parents being involved with the school, was that ever a challenge?
O: I don't- not really. I know like kindergarten and pre-school- since I was like in the city, there were a lot of like Latinos and just minority students so there were like those translators and stuff. And my mother was that person, she's like, I need to see where my child is so I'm going to volunteer and see what he's doing at school and stuff. So she was always like everywhere. But I recognize like when we moved to North Carolina, where I felt like there wasn't as many concentrated Latinos, there was a little like- it was interesting like how she communicated with my teachers because she can definitely understand English. She can speak it, I feel like pretty well. But there was that lack of communication which- But my father made up for that because by then, I had my dad. I started to realize my elementary school days, like it was my mother who was kind of like supporting me through but middle school and high school it was more or less like my father. At least in the beginning, directing me. Like how do you right a report? That was something that my mom could never help me with. Like I remember, I asked her one time how to spell mommy and she told me m-a-m-i, which makes sense and that's how I always spelled it and then I remember second grade or third grade on some like essay or something, they crossed it out and they were like that's not right. It's m-o-m-m-y. And I was like, what? It was like really strange. And then like, you know, that's when I slowly realized, oh, I don't know how reliable my mom is for language and stuff. So yeah, just things like that. And just reading...we never really read together. [Laughter] So yeah, to some extent, those were kind of like some hindrances.
OM: So did your mom and dad have differing kind of views or approaches to the way they presented education to you or were they pretty, you know, cohesive as a team and their views and goals for you in the long run?
O: I think they were pretty cohesive. Yeah, I don't think there was ever, in terms of education, there weren't any disagreements.
OM: So as far as your educational background and your goals for yourself, kind of where do you stand now? You said you're studying Global Studies and--
O: Psychology. Yeah. Well yeah, those are my two majors and I really want to go in the field of mental health and specifically work with the Latino population in the United States, dealing with mental health. Just because my experiences abroad and the classes that I've taken here, I've realized how neglected that kind of field of study is like around the world, and especially in Latin America. Like the mental health system is just basically non-existent. And even the concept of like, a mental illness is not very well understood. Either people think it doesn't really exist or that kind of labeling is only for like crazy people. And so, considering that there are a whole bunch of Latino immigrants here in the U.S., it's the fastest growing minority group, I feel like mental health services need to be more culturally informed in how they approach that specific population.
OM: So how do you feel about the education that you've received in the US?
O: I mean, I love it. I love UNC. When I go to Guatemala and I talk to my cousins, who are about my age, it's interesting because I never really want to be judgmental, but I just find that like over there it's just very, like I said, just very specialized. They just know a lot about this one field of study and they may not necessarily be able to--I don't know. It's just like very strange. I just feel like I have more well-rounded perspective on certain issues. But I mean, that's being really biased, so I don't really know.
OM: How do you think a person's education level can affect their life and affect their status in a community? Like how do you think education affects that?
O: Oh yeah. I mean it definitely affects your life chances and choices. It affects kind of like- it influences what your SES (socio-economic status) is going to be, how you're going to provide for your family based on the occupation that you get. The role, or the- in terms of what you major in or your occupation, that kind of defines like your success. Whether you're like a teacher or a doctor or a psychologist- and I'm speaking in terms of Guatemala or like- I guess actually no, in general. There's like, I don't know. It seems like doctors and lawyers are perceived to be the most prestigious. And I feel like psychologists, it's like okay, well do you have a PhD? Or if you're a social worker, it's like oh, I'm sorry you're going to be poor. Like when I was-and that's still like in consideration for me, being like a clinical social worker. And whenever I say that, it's like, well, at least you'll be happy. I'm like, what do you mean? It's like, well you won't have money. And I'm like, okay. So in terms of like your role and maybe your authority, it might, I don't know, it influences that. And especially like, I don't know, being a male and trying to be a social worker. That's like a little different form the norm, as well. Just like a woman trying to be a doctor. It's just like, you know, you're going to be presented with different confrontation.
OM: And do you ever think that maybe when your parents were a little disappointed that you weren't going in a specialized route that that not only had to do with the fact that you may not make enough, you know, a lot of money going up but that they expected more of you just because you're a male?
O: I think- I want to say no. Just because if anything, I think they expected more because I was the only child. But I think they respected a lot- I don't know. Yeah, I don't really think so. I think it had to do with me being an only child. Because that's also unusual in Latino families. So there was a lot more responsibility on my shoulders. So they just wanted me to be as well off as possible. For my sake also but like--I mean yeah, mainly for my sake, I think. But from my family's perspective, who weren't my parents, they were like; you need to be as well off as possible to take care of your family.
OM: So how has being the child of a migrant affected your educational experiences? Is there a huge Latino population in Wilmington, where you were? Or even in Connecticut where you lived?
O: Now, in Wilmington, yes. How it's affected- if anything, I honestly think it's made me more like driven. Because to hear about like the suffering, or not suffering, but kind of the disadvantages or my mom had to go through with her family coming from like a very poor background. And even my father, and like the kind of discrimination my dad's family in the U.S. had to face. I don't know, that just like, was very encouraging I think to do the best I could. To kind of- I mean it kind of scared me because well I don't want to be poor so I'm going to give it my all. And then, you know, eventually in high school it's like I want to do the best I can to also show society in the U.S. that Latinos can kind of like be successful. Because even in my education system, I don't know, those different microforms of bullying or kind of bigotry, the implications are like Latinos aren't that smart or whatever. Just always- I don't know. That just provided more of an incentive to do the best I could to kind of prove them wrong.
OM: So from what you've found working with the Latino community here and abroad, do you think that your experience is pretty unique as far as like, you know, you only have one migrant parent, and both of your parents have some sort of higher education. Is that fairly unique for the other Latino populations that you've encountered?
O: Urn, that I've encountered? Maybe. If anything, what's unique is that both my parents come from Latino backgrounds. Because I definitely know people who have one parent who's from Latino background and the other person is like American or what not. So in that aspect, probably. I don't know. I don't really know. It's hard to say but I would- I know there's definitely yak lot of students who face like-- they're parents aren't from the U.S. originally and so like it's harder or their parents to understand the education system here and they can't really offer that much advice. Like, yeah, even thinking about like college. My mom didn't know what UNC was or the prestige of colleges or FAFSA. I think that's a big thing too. And neither did my dad. And speaking with other friends who have parents from-- not even from another country but parents who didn't really go into higher education like college, not knowing about the financial aid resources that are available. Like I never would have known about FAFSA if the other kids in my AP or Honors classes weren't talking about UNC and like FAFSA and like, oh it's UNC. It's like; oh it's a good university. Okay, I guess, I'll apply there.
OM: So did your high school have any types of programs to keep parents involved, especially during the college application process?
O: No. There's like- I just remember thinking, like, wow, everyone knows what to do. But I realized everyone's parents were like helping them out. If anything, my dad, more or less knew kind of what to do, but not really. And then my mom just didn't really know at all. So it was me learning through my friends and then relaying the information back to my parents. So yeah.
OM: So was that important for you to have your parents involved in that process? Or you know, as you got information from your classmates and from teachers and everything like
that, and relayed it to them, did you want them to be involved in that process or you were just kind of doing it on your own to apply to college?
O: I felt, I mean, I wanted them to. And to some extent, they were. If anything, they were like supportive. It was like "what do you have to do." Oh, I have to write an essay for this college. Okay, it's like "well, write the essay." They weren't really like, what is the essay about? It was just like, just do it. So yeah.
OM: So, I guess, how does having only one migrant parent make your experience different? Like both of your parents are Latino and we were talking a little bit about that but does just having one being a migrant make your experience any different?
O: I think so. Especially when my parents got married and-- because my father is definitely very much Americanized. He speaks Spanish but it's like his second language and for my mom, it's her first. But the way they approach--I think the way they approach parenting was very different. Before my dad came around, before he came back, so up until I was eight years old, me and my mom had a very close relationship. I was with her like all the time. I'd probably be one of those children who had anxiety when like their parents would leave or whatever, like when my mom would leave. I slept in her bed a lot, which always seemed normal to me. And that is kind of a normal thing in Latin America, like the children sleeping with like their parents. Then all that stopped when my dad came. He's like no, he has his own room and he has to stay there. And even when I was approaching my eighteenth birthday, my dad was like, okay so he has to leave the house or if he stays here, he's going to pay rent. My mom was like no, that's not going to happen because for her, in Guatemala, the kids stay with their parents until they get married. So my cousins are there until they're like thirty. And that's fins, as long as their getting an education, they're welcomed to stay at the home. So things like that were kind of different, I don't know some cultural differences. And my like my dad, coming from that Puerto Rican background. My mom's interaction with his parents, who can speak Spanish, I learned like not all Latinos are the same. [Laughter] Guatemalans and Puerto Ricans are very different.
OM: So, I guess, what type of work have you done with Latino migrant communities? With those Latino migrant communities, have you discussed education at all or seen how education is kind of discussed or portrayed within the Latino migrant community?
O: Well, I worked with a community group called Eagle's Nest like my first two years here at UNC. And I worked with like third graders, Latinos. There wasn't really much discussion, I was just trying to help them to read and like do math problems. And honestly, my only real experience would have to be like in Guatemala last summer where I spent seven weeks being a teacher but in an indigenous community, so that's a different culture in itself. And working with the kids there and teaching them all different aspects of primary education. And just for them, their like not only really marginalized from society and come from the poor of the poor but they just had this ambitious to learn. Like, I think for them they understood the importance of education a lot more than a lot of kids their age in the United States, I think. So yeah, if anything, that was kind of my experience.
OM: Is your mom from an indigenous background in Guatemala?
O: She isn't.
OM: So how did she feel about you working with the indigenous population?
O: Um she was fine, my family in Guatemala... [Laughter] it was strange. Like, they knew what I was going to do, and I was gone for like ten weeks, and then I came back and spent the last week with my family and kind of showed them pictures and explained what I did and it was just very strange. If anything, I felt like they were saying, oh, that's really cute like what you did. Like you helping out like those people- It was just-I don't know, like they didn't really understand why I wanted to. They were like, why are you going to help? Why do you want to? And they were like, how is this going to help you with your career? That was another thing too [laughter] like how is like teaching them and volunteering, how is this helping you with your career path?
OM: So do you feel that even within Guatemala and those two different cultures, indigenous and then other Guatemalans, that education is a completely different idea in both cultures? Do they see it differently?
O: I mean, I don't really know. I can't really speak--I know that it's, I mean it's definitely valued. Like access to education and the quality of the education you receive if you can't afford to go to a private school, all depends- I don't know, that affects like a lot of stuff.
OM: Alright, well just, I guess any last words or any last things you want to say about kind of your educational experience or that of your parents or how they affected yours?
O: I mean, I don't really know. Just like, my parents were always really supportive. To an extent, like I said, like where they were a little demanding. But with discussion and explanation they kind of calmed down, even though they still have those expectations of like, okay, be a PhD student now. But one thing at a time, I guess.
OM: Alright, well thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
O: Thank you.