Adriana Iturbide

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Adriana Iturbide is an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Iturbide’s family comes from Toluca, Mexico, but moved to Charlotte, N.C. in 1996 because of her father's job transfer at the BB&T Corporation (Branch Banking & Trust). Throughout her life, she has attended school and, following her parents’ example, decided to attend college to pursue a professional career. The central theme of the interview involved perceptions of gender, expectations of gender, and gender roles, and how these change depending on geographical area, setting, and culture. Questions were asked regarding family relations, professional aspirations and goals, and past experiences with gender-related conflict between Iturbide and other members of her family. Stories from her time visiting family in Mexico as well as how she grew up around her parents and brother were explored. The themes that arose most prominently involved family dynamics, ease of communication between family members, and egalitarian world views held by members of Iturbide's family. Through her family’s stories and history, she describes how professional expectations, sometimes regardless of gender, have been passed down and modified. These generational changes most evidently manifest in her story regarding her great-grandfather's mistreatment of her great-grandmother, and the lessons her mother learned as a result of that. She repeatedly refers to her parents’ relationship as ideal, without barriers to communication and with sacrifices made from both her father and mother. Iturbide frequently contrasts Mexican conceptions of gender with U.S. conceptions of gender, thereby subconsciously speaking to how she and her family have withheld certain aspects of what she considers to be her original culture.



Nick Johnson: Okay, this is Nick Johnson interviewing--
Adriana Iturbide: Adriana Iturbide.
NJ: The date is April 3, 2013, time approximately 4:41. We are currently in an upstairs room at the Lutheran Campus Ministries building, which is on Pickard Street, which is just off of Franklin Street or Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Adriana, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
AI: No problem.
NJ: So, let's start off by you just telling me a little bit about your family's decision to come here.
AI: Well, so my dad is a mechanical engineer. We're originally from Toluca, Mexico, in the city of Mexico. Well, state of Mexico. And he was offered a position through his company for a one-year project which turned into a two-year project. And eventually, they offered him a permanent position within his company and my parents decided--. My mom's a dentist and she had her practice in Mexico, but they basically decided to stay here so that my brother and I could go to school here and learn English, and then maybe eventually go back or not, but we ended up staying in Charlotte.
NJ: What do you remember about your move here? When did you move here?
AI: I moved here in '96, when my brother was one year old. I was five, I believe. Around the age of five, and--.
NJ: So young.
AI: Yeah, I was a baby. But I remember a lot. I remember going to school in Mexico, and I remember the transition of how different it was, just in terms of people being very--. No one opened their windows, we never saw anyone out on the streets; it was, it was really different. And not being with my family was different too.
NJ: You still have family in Mexico?
AI: All of my family is in Mexico. My extended family. It was just my brother, my dad, and myself. And my mom, here.
NJ: Did you have any contacts coming here?
AI: My dad's company really helped us with the transition. He was here for a couple months before, just kind of looking for schools, and his company really helped us move in. And they eventually flew us with him to Charlotte, and they helped. They hired tutors for us, and helped--. I remember my mom got a--I don't know what her position was--but she basically helped my mom acclimate and taught her where the grocery stores were and what everything was. And they helped us look for where we were going to stay, like our apartment, our house, and so we got a lot of help through his company, which was nice.
NJ: So, you mentioned that your dad works as a mechanical engineer.
AI: Mhm.
NJ: Does your mom work at all?
AI: Well, like I said, she had her practice in Mexico, her dental practice. But North Carolina doesn't validate any license that is acquired abroad. So she would've had to have gone back to school, and at the time, UNC was actually the only dental school in North Carolina. And so she would've had to go back to school in Chapel Hill. And since my dad's job was in Charlotte, she decided to just stay at home. But she went back to school in Charlotte at CPCC and got her degree, her dental hygienist degree. So she's working as a dental hygienist.
NJ: Does she have her own practice here?
AI: No. Well, a dental hygienist works under a dentist.
NJ: Oh, okay.
AI: So she works for another dentist.
NJ: And is your dad still with the same company?
AI: He actually is not. Right now, he's working for BB&T. He started working for them, I think, two years ago. His company was Celanese Mexicana, and then that changed ownership. It's a large company dealing with synthetic fibers and they work with Speedo and Coca-Cola, I believe. I don't really--.
NJ: Big clients.
AI: Yeah, this is just from what I understand of his company.
NJ: That's fine.
AI: And then they switched ownership and they were Cosa, and then they switched ownership again and became Invista, and then I think the ownership changed what the company actually did. So then they kind of changed--. Once they changed the last ownership, they decided to go in a different direction with the company, so they helped my dad find another job. And that's how he ended up with BB&T.
NJ: So, when your family moved here, did they come directly to Charlotte? Or was there a lot of moving around during this time?
AI: I don't remember if my--. Well, the headquarters for his company were in Charlotte. So, we wanted--. I don't know if they looked around Charlotte, but I know that when we flew in with my mom and my brother, we went directly to Charlotte. We went directly to our house.
NJ: Okay. So both of your parents, it sounds like, had some form of higher education. What do they think of your education?
AI: Well, not going to school was never an option, just because my mom did. All of her sisters went into professional school. And my dad always--. I just kind of grew up with the idea that going to school is important and my dad always says that, especially now, the higher you go within your education, the better off you are. And when the company he worked for did change ownership, that really helped him because he has a Master's in business, I believe? And so his experience, he's kind of taught us, the more educated you are, the easier things will be.
NJ: So, shifting gears a little bit, before coming to UNC, what was your typical day like?
AI: Before coming to UNC?
NJ: Yes.
AI: Like in high school?
NJ: Yeah. Or even before high school.
AI: I guess just being at home. I spent a lot of time with my family. I guess in high school, it was just go to school. I worked at the YMCA as a lifeguard in the summer. I spent a lot of time in the Y. So I would just go to school. I played soccer, my brother played soccer. So it was always a lot about being active. So anything I was involved with in school, and in school, and then coming home and doing my homework, and then practice. That was pretty much--oh, and piano. I had piano.
NJ: Do you still play piano?
AI: Mhm.
NJ: Great.
AI: Yeah.
NJ: Was it different for your brother, or did you find that--. Well, was it different for your brother?
AI: Moving here?
NJ: No, what his typical day was like.
AI: Oh. It was probably about the same. He's four years younger than me. So I guess it would just depend on what he was doing in school, and, especially as he got older, he was just as involved. He was less involved in extracurriculars, but he was always more involved with his soccer. Our days were pretty much the same.
NJ: Did you find any differences in the way that your parents fostered activities that you and your brother would do?
AI: Not really. There were only differences in--. My mom was a lot stricter with me, from what I remember when we were in Mexico, but I think it was just probably because I was her firstborn. But my dad always, I mean, he's always treated us the same. He even accidentally signed me up for a baseball team when we first moved here, because he didn't know about the gender differences between softball and baseball. And I asked him to switch me out, and he was like, "No, just stay." Both my parents have been pretty equally supportive and equally--.
NJ: Do you have any other siblings aside from your brother?
AI: No.
NJ: Okay.
AI: Just my brother.
NJ: So, talking about your parents: what was your father's day like? From what you can remember.
AI: In Charlotte?
NJ: In Charlotte. Before you came to UNC.
AI: Well, my dad would go to work. Well, he wakes up at like 5:00 every morning and goes and works out.
NJ: Dedicated.
AI: Yeah, very dedicated. Because we were so involved in extracurriculars before I could drive, he would have to help my mom either pick us up or take us to our different activities, so the morning was the only time he could work out. So he would work out, wake up. He usually made breakfast; he's the breakfast person at home. And then he would see us off at school, and then right after we would leave, he would go to work. And then he'd come back from work in the afternoon, or pick me up or pick one of us up from practice.
NJ: And how about your mother? What was her typical day like?
AI: When she wasn't working, she would just be at home and [coughs] she would go to church or hang out with her friends. She took art classes. But then when she went back to school, that was different because she would be studying at night. And during the day, I would assume she went to class. And then when she started working, she was at work most of the day, until 3:00 or 4:00.
NJ: So you said she took night classes?
AI: No, she took day classes, but she would study--
NJ: Oh, I see.
AI: She would do her work later in the night after everyone was settled.
NJ: What do you think your father's attitude was towards her going back to school?
AI: He was really supportive. I think that it's probably one of the most selfless things my mom has ever done, giving up her practice. And my dad, I mean, obviously he supported her practice, and he knows that's what makes her--. She loves being a dentist. Well, she loved being a dentist, so he really supported that. And when my mom decided--. They kind of always looked at the option of her going back to dental school, but she was the one that was like, "No, I already studied it once. I'm not going to go back to school." Because she would have to pretty much go in it and, especially going back to dental school in English, it would be totally different. It'd be the same, but different. And so my dad really supported her when she decided to go back.
NJ: Have your parents ever found the language barrier to be an issue?
AI: I mean, I guess sometimes it was an obstacle, especially at first, just because none of us spoke English. My dad did. I don't really remember learning it just because I kind of assimilated into it. But I do remember my brother coming home and crying because they had called him dumb at school because he was mixing up his English and his Spanish. So he was speaking Spanglish, because he was in preschool. But my mom was always like--. We actually--since it was only supposed to be for two years and one of the main reasons they brought us here was to learn English and kind of be more prepared so when we went back to Mexico, we would have that second language--we first said that we were only going to speak English at home and help foster that learning. But then one day I came home crying because I didn't know how to say "banana" in Spanish, and so then that's when my mom was like, "No, we're only speaking Spanish at home." So we wouldn't forget our Spanish. What was the question again?
NJ: Was it ever an obstacle?
AI: Oh. My mom was probably the one that struggled with it the most, just because when we first moved here, she wasn't working. So she would just be at home with my brother, because he was a baby. And so I think she was the one that was less exposed to the language. For awhile, I think she was very self-conscious about her English, but my dad and I were very supportive and I think that with his support, she really grew more confident in her English. And I think that being back at school kind of showed her that she did know how to speak English. So I think she's assimilated with her English and more comfortable.
NJ: Regarding assimilation, do you think that your parents ever feel like they've lost something by moving here in terms of culture or social aspects or language even?
AI: We talk about this all the time, because I think that sometimes, when I was little, I struggled with that feeling that I was losing part of my culture because it's something that my parents always instilled. Never forget where you come from. And I grew up in a great environment in Mexico, so it was something that I really valued. But I think that the benefits that we've gotten--. We always say that we'd be different kids. My brother and I would be very different if we had stayed in Mexico. My mom didn't let us stop speaking Spanish; we only speak Spanish at home. We always go back in the summer if we can. And so, kind of in that, we've kept as much as we can. But I think it's kind of like a give or take. And I think we've tried to take what we can from being here and then stay with what we can.
NJ: How do you think you would be different? You mentioned you would be different.
AI: Well, my brother and I are very close. He's my best friend, so I think that--especially because my family is very, very close in my extended family, especially on my mom's side--we would probably be just raised--. My mom says we would've been raised by more than just my dad and herself. Like, my grandparents would've helped raise us, on both sides. My aunts and uncles, and so there would've been more influence in terms of how many people were around us. And then all my cousins, so we probably might not be as close, I think, as a family. We'd be close to our family, closer to our family, but in terms of us four? We probably wouldn't be as close as we are.
NJ: How often did you say you visit your family in Mexico?
AI: When we were little, we used to go in December if we could for Christmas, but that got harder just because everyone got busier. But we usually go in the summers; but ever since I've started school, I haven't been at home for the summers because I traveled my first year, my second year I did a summer program, and then this year, I plan on working.
NJ: So, you mentioned how you think that you might be different whether you had grown up in Mexico around your extended family a little bit more. This might be a tough question to answer, but what differences do you notice between gender expectations in your family here versus your extended family there?
AI: I think that when I go back to Mexico, you know, my grandpa, he said last time, "Just keep doing well in school" and that we had a good thing going. So I think that I might be more expected to become a professional woman because I'm here, but I think it's just because my extended family kind of sees what I'm doing with myself at school. So they kind of already see myself going into the dental world, because I want to be a dentist. My whole extended family is very much about going to school and, you know, somehow being happy but at the same time making a living, in any form of profession. I can't really say, because when I do visit, they kind of just support me in what I'm doing right now, and I don't really see them treat my cousins differently. I don't know. That's a hard question.
NJ: Thank you for answering it. If you think of anything, just chime in.
AI: Yeah.
NJ: How would you describe your family dynamic here, just in terms of relations between family members? I know that you said you were close.
AI: Well, it's just my brother and my mom and my dad. Like I said, my brother's my best friend. My mom was really strict with me when I was little. Not very strict, but she was pretty strict.
NJ: In what ways?
AI: She was very, you know, about doing your homework and doing it right, and just putting my best effort in. And if she saw that I wasn't, she would make me do things again. And I think she was more relaxed with my brother in terms--. I mean, he was also a guy. So I think that--actually, I don't know. That's interesting. [Laughter] I think just because our personalities, I would be more prone to listening to my mom. If she told me to do this, I'd be like, "Okay!" My brother is just--. I think I just really like school, so it was easier for her to kind of tell me to do things for school. But it goes back to how she was raised because she had six sisters--no, five sisters--and one brother. And I definitely think that how she was raised influences the fact that she doesn't treat us differently based off of gender, because my grandpa kind of spoiled my uncle. I hope he never listens to this. He spoiled my uncle. And all my aunts, he kind of raised them with, you know, "Don't depend on men." Because my great-grandpa, he wasn't as reliable as my grandpa would've wanted him to be. And he saw how that made my great-grandma suffer throughout how he was raised. And he was the oldest, my grandpa. So he really instilled in his daughters, you know, don't depend on men in order to, you know, be able to sustain your family and get ahead. Because he had to start working at an early age to help his mom. So he just really emphasized education and finding a profession and being okay financially and being independent within my aunts and my mom, and then he didn't do the same for my uncle. And my mom saw the differences in attitude and my uncle expecting everything to be given to him as opposed to going to school and working for it. I think because my uncle was more spoiled because he was a guy, my mom makes sure that she doesn't do that.
NJ: So you said, or it sounds like to me that your brother, even though you were more inclined to listen to your mom, that your brother maybe--. Can you explain a little bit about that?
AI: I think my brother and I just have different personalities. Like, I loved reading. So, even my mom, she would look for me and I'd be in the bathroom reading a book. So I think it just goes back to our personalities. My brother was more about being outside. Like, I love being outside too, but I just had a thing about books. I just liked reading. I don't really remember. She would make us do the same things, but when she would tell him, "Do this again," I don't know. He's a little bit more restless than I am. So I don't think it goes to how she treated us. It was more like our personality differences.
NJ: Do you find that your mother identifies with you more than your brother?
AI: Not really. If anything, I used to say that he was the spoiled one, because--. He says that I'm the spoiled one, so my mom just spoils us in different ways, I guess. I know that they're really close, for lots of reasons, but I think it always goes back to the fact that my mom--when my dad would go off to work when we first moved here, and I went to school--she would stay with my brother when he was a baby. So I think that kind of created the fact that they were always going to be close.
NJ: Is your father familiar with your mother's past and background and her family history of her grandfather not necessarily stepping up and providing for the family?
AI: Yeah. Wait, about my great-grandpa?
NJ: Yeah.
AI: Yeah. He definitely knows because my parents met in Mexico, and my grandpa met my great-grandfather and all of my extended family. And I think that's something that's very different between, like, Mexico and here. When my dad did want to marry my mom, he asked my dad. Like, it was a whole thing. He went and asked my mom's dad. And then my grandparents and my other grandparents met, and then, basically, they had this whole "meet the parents" thing. And my parents have been always really open with each other. And my mom talks like me. So he knows.
NJ: Their relationship sounds really wonderful.
AI: Yeah. They're great.
NJ: How would you describe your family's social presence within their community?
AI: Oh, I don't know. Well, my mom has lots of friends within, she's found a lot of friends through church. I think it's kind of developed over the years because when we first moved here, we had a lot of friends that had moved through my dad's same company.
NJ: From Mexico?
AI: From Mexico. But once ownership changed, a lot of them moved back to Mexico. A lot of them got transferred to other plants or headquarters. I don't know what you call them. So then my mom met mutual friends, I think. I don't know how she has the friend group she has now, but she's close to her friends. My dad, a lot of his friends are from soccer teams, like soccer dads that he's met. I mean, they're actively social, I guess. I don't think that they're like--. We don't throw parties at our house all the time.
NJ: How have your personal convictions evolved since you were younger?
AI: Convictions like--?
NJ: Goals for yourself, worldview.
AI: Well, it's funny because in second grade, I said that I wanted to be a dentist like my mom. And then I kind of drifted away from that because I didn't want to be what my mom was, and wanted to explore my options. But coming here to UNC, I went back to that. So I think they've always been the same, but I decided to explore them. Because of my dad's influence, he'd always be like, you know, make sure. And my mom never pressured me into being a dentist or pursuing dentistry. And my dad always did the same. He just told me to look through my options. And I guess my worldview's been always the same. I mean, not really the same, but I've always been very open-minded. But I think the scope of that open-mindedness expanded once I got to UNC. But my parents really--. We love traveling, they love traveling, so they used to take us places. And my uncles have lived in Europe so we went to visit them. So I think they always promoted being open-minded in accepting different people.
NJ: But perhaps that didn't manifest really that fully until coming to UNC?
AI: Well, the thing about UNC is, I was always very open-minded, but it was different because there are so many different types of people here at UNC. And then they educated me about different groups that I hadn't been able to be immersed in.
NJ: To go along with this question, how have your perceptions of yourself evolved since you were younger or since you came to UNC?
AI: I guess in high school and middle school, I used to be like, "Oh, I'm very independent." Then coming here, I realized I am independent, but at the same time, it made me realize how close I am to my family. And I think that every year, I go back home more. My freshman year, or my first year, I was just like, "No, I'm just gonna stay here all year." My sophomore year, I went back every once in a while. And this year, I'm back every weekend, so I think that I've realized who I am because of who I am. And so I go back more, because I appreciate that, I guess.
NJ: Can you remember times when your parents may have taught you something based on your gender?
AI: Well, like I said, I guess my dad, he's never really taught me anything based on my gender. But my mom? I think it goes back to her being stricter with me. I think because she's a woman, and I guess I was a girl when she was raising me, she probably looked back on how her mom raised her. I mean, even today, when I sit with my leg--I always do this because I had knee surgery, so it's more comfortable for my knee if I sit with my leg up--she's always like--
NJ: Perpendicular to your--
AI: Yeah, like perpendicular to the chair.
NJ: Which is the typical "guy's"--
AI: Yeah, I guess.
NJ: Position.
AI: I mean, not like on my leg, but on the chair. And when I'm sitting down, it just feels better for my knee. Before she knew that, she was like, "( ), siéntate bien. Sit up." I don't think she ever said, "Sit like a lady," but she'd always be like, "Sit up." But at the same time, she tells my brother that too. She's always like, "Sit with your back straight." So I think it goes back to more just being proper as opposed to asking like a lady because [she] says the same things to my brother.
NJ: Can you think of any other examples?
AI: When I'm walking in heels, she taught me how to walk in heels the right way. But again, I think it's just because she has a certain view of how you should walk in heels, because I'm pretty sure if my brother were walking in heels, she would tell him the right way to walk in heels. She'd always just be like, "This is how you should walk, with one leg crossed and then the other leg cross, and then small steps." So I think it's just the whole proper-ness.
NJ: Have you heard any stories from your extended family about similar ways of learning?
AI: No, but I feel like my aunts were raised in the same way. They're very much about like presenting one's self very well. Well, not in a conceited way, but just making sure that you're--. But I think that's a societal difference because in Mexico, you never see anyone in sweatpants. Like, ever, unless they're going to sleep. Okay, maybe not ever, because I don't know every Mexican family.
NJ: It's okay. Have you ever seen people in sweatpants?
AI: In my experience, I see more people in--. Just coming here, my mom would be like, "Why are you wearing sweatpants to the Harris Teeter?" She'd be like, "Don't go outside in fachas," so like in bummy clothes. But I think it's more in Mexico, you're expected to be presentable. And people don't wear sweatpants, in my experience. So I think my aunts helping me grow up goes back to how people, not just women, are expected to present themselves.
NJ: So you would say that presenting yourself in Mexico is generally something that crosses gender lines? Presenting yourself well, that is.
AI: Yeah, I think so. I think it might just also be my family, and where we come from. Because I know, regionally, life is very different. So I think that because we're more from the city, we're definitely raised differently than people up north, especially near the border just because there's so much--even within that area--there's so much cultural fusion and conflict within people because you have the United States culture and the Mexican culture in the middle. So I think that, at least from where I'm from, it's just across the board: don't be a bum.
NJ: How have you seen the differences between U.S. perceptions of gender and Mexican perceptions of gender?
AI: Wait, could you repeat that?
NJ: How have you, in your life, seen the difference between U.S. perceptions of gender and Mexican perceptions of gender? Because you mentioned just now that there's a lot of fusion towards the border because of the cross-cultural differences. How have you seen those differences manifest, maybe between when you've gone to visit your extended family versus being here in the States?
AI: Well, I think that (pause) women are held more accountable in Mexico. At least, in my experience with my family, like my extended family. Because when I see women from the United States abroad--. Because we all say there's always that perception especially in vacation areas of American women or women from the U.S. or foreign women that come and they kind of do what they want. And I've seen that personally, just in foreigners not really caring about what they're doing as opposed to if when I go to some place--I don't know, it could be just because of how I was brought up--but I believe that my extended cousins wouldn't go somewhere else and act any way that they wouldn't have been raised. They kind of hold themselves more accountable to how they've been raised. But that's generalizing, I think.
NJ: But I mean, if you have seen that, then that's one thing.
AI: Yeah. Just because like when we're in--. My family, when we would go vacation in Puerto Vallarta or other beaches, we would see women--not even just from the U.S. but other foreigners--just acting like, I know your mom wouldn't want you to act that way; as opposed to when my cousins and I, even if we're by ourselves, we act more in line to how our mothers taught us or our fathers taught us to act. That would be the main thing that I've seen.
NJ: Speaking a bit more towards careers and life after college, how do your goals align with your parents' expectations of you?
AI: I think that my parents just expect me to find something that I like to do. And I think that because I've set the goal to go to dental school, they expect me to--if that's what I want--to end up going to dental school. So I just think they want me to be happy while at the same time professionally fulfilling some type of goal. I don't think that they have set in stone what I'm supposed to do, just as long as I'm challenging myself academically and then professionally and then just finding something that I like to do.
NJ: Can you remember any conversations that you have had with your parents about things that you've been interested in that maybe they have favored more highly than other things? Just out of curiosity.
AI: Well, one time I told my mom that I, if my life didn't work out the way we wanted it to or the way I wanted it to, I was going to go to Italy and make wine and just live on a vineyard. And she looked at me and she knows I enjoy traveling and I enjoy wine. [laughter] She just kind of laughed at me and she was like, "Well, if that's what you want to do." They've always just said, if we want to maintain the same standard of living that my dad's been able to provide for us here, that that's up to us. Basically, whatever life we want to live is up to us in the future. So I think that's been their main, my mom's main point: that we've been very blessed and my dad attributes it mostly to his education and all that. But I think that my brother and I both acknowledge that we've been very lucky with the parents that we've had and our experience in the U.S., especially in moving here. So I think that's been their main point. If you want to stay where we are, or at least live how you're used to living, then it's not going to be handed to you.
NJ: Do you find that your brother has the same vocational direction that you have? And by direction, I mean, not necessarily he would be a dentist, but that he has something in mind that he's really interested in doing.
AI: Yeah, right now he's a senior in high school. And he's going to UNC-Charlotte, and he's going to play for their soccer team. And he was looking at State. He actually got into State because he was looking at engineering, and my dad's an engineer, like I said. And he's so good at math, which is great because I'm really bad at math. He really, really likes math, and so whenever I talk to him about what he wants to do, he'll mention like, "Oh, maybe one day I'll go pro." Because he's actually very good, but I always say, "Brother, you know, what if you get hurt? You have to have something to back up on. You know, you can't play soccer forever. It only takes one injury to basically kill your career." And he's always like, yeah. And I know it's something my dad and my parents have talked to him about. But he can play soccer and soccer really helps him stay focused, but he's really interested in systemic--? Systematic engineering? Systems engineering? I don't know.
NJ: Systems engineering?
AI: Systems engineering. Something along that. He actually talked to me about it this weekend, because I asked him. And he was like, "It's more the business." I think he's finding his interest in business. But I don't know. Maybe he'll be a famous soccer player, but I know that my parents have really emphasized that he needs to finish school before he does that. And he's acknowledged that too.
NJ: Do you find that your brother may have ever consciously tried to follow in your dad's footsteps?
AI: Maybe? I think at first, because he was in a science class and he really liked anatomy, and so he was like, "Maybe one day I'll want to be a doctor." And because we had always heard him say, "I want to be an engineer," I've always emphasized the fact that he's really good at math just because I'm really bad at math. He's in calc, and I just don't understand how he does it. He doesn't really study and he comes back and is like, "Oh, I got a 100." And I'm like, that's nice, you know? [laughter] Good for you! So I think I always emphasize the fact that he's really blessed and that it just comes really easy to him. And I think it might have been me that--. It's not really my dad's doing that he kind of sparked an interest in engineering. I think it's because when I was little, I wanted to be an engineer, but because I'm really bad at math and I'm really not good with that type of thinking, I kind of steered away from it. So I think maybe it was my subconscious desire to be like my dad and I kind of pushed it on to my brother. But when he started getting interested in medicine, my parents were like, "Okay, if that's what you want to do." But I don't know. Once he got accepted into State--. He definitely didn't want to go here, he didn't want to go anywhere else except for State, and then Charlotte offered him a position on the team. And because soccer's always been the thing that keeps him on track, he just chose Charlotte.
NJ: That's really interesting to hear that you two play off each other a little bit.
AI: Yeah.
NJ: In terms of influences. That's really cool. We're about to wrap up, but I just have a couple more questions. Can you remember any conflicts you and your parents have had regarding expectations of you, possibly because of gender?
AI: Yeah, my curfew in high school. I think it always goes back--my brother and I--it's not so much our gender, but it's like, I hate conflict. I really do not like conflict, so if my parents said something, I'd be like, "Okay." But my brother, he inherited my mom's side of the family in terms of personality, and they're more outspoken. They're more likely to start an argument. So I think that my brother always fought for, you know, if he wanted to stay out past 10:00, he'd fight for it; as opposed to me, I'd be like, "Okay, see you at 10:00."
NJ: And you're saying that your brother's willingness to fight for it comes from your mom's side of the family?
AI: Yeah. My dad is definitely the calmer one of my parents. Not saying my mom is not calm, but just their personalities. My dad's side of the family--we call it the Iturbide side because that's his side of the family--they're calm and quieter. My dad's just very--. I think he's been mad at me, like mad at me, maybe twice in my life, and one of them was when I wasn't stepping on the clutch and his transmission was about to mess up. He's very, very calm. My mom has calmed down over the years and she always attributes to the betterment of the personality because of my dad. Well, she always says that he's always helped her become a better person because she's more patient now, which is good. But he definitely got my mom's personality or that side of the family's personality, and I'm more like my dad: I'm more patient and I'm quieter. So I guess it's contrasting what gender norms tell us that the guy's usually the more aggressive one, but my dad's not aggressive at all.
But one time I did get an argument with my parents. Well, with my mom, because my brother--it was my first year of college--and my brother wanted to go to a party, and my brother was a sophomore in high school. When I was a sophomore in high school, I'd have to be home by like 9:00. And they were just like, "Oh, we'll pick you up at, like, 12:00." And I was like, "What? You're letting him go?" And I think the argument started because the day before I had asked to go somewhere, and when I'm home, even though I'm in college, I'll be like, "Can I go out?" They're like, "What time are you gonna be back?" I'm like, "I don't know." And it's different because here at school, I don't really plan when I'm going to come home. So I was like, "I don't know, Mom. Like, 1:00?" And she was like, "1:00?" She was just like, "No!" And I was like, "12:00. I'll be back by midnight." And she was like, "No, that's late." And I was just really mad. And I know that it's because when I do go home, they want to spend time with me. It's not so much, shouldn't be out because you're a woman, even though kind of, maybe. But she's always been like, "When you're home, we want to spend time with you." Which makes sense, because I'm usually not home very long. But I was just really mad, and I was like, "Mom, why?" I kind of fought into the whole, like, "It's because he's a guy." I think it might have been me just using that as an argument to get what I wanted. But I was like, "Mom, just because he's a guy, you're letting him do more things." And she was like, "No, it's not because he's a guy. It's because I want you home." It's like, "Why do you want me home? It's the same thing." And she's like, "Will you need to be driving? It's not safe." And I was like, "Well, you can pick me up at 12:00 or at 1:00. I don't care." And she was still--. I don't know. It might subliminally be a gender--. She's never admitted it to be because I'm a woman, but she always has said that nothing decent happens after 2:00 a.m. So, she's never told my brother that. I tell my brother that.
NJ: I think the actual quote is 4:00 a.m.
AI: Well, she says 2:00. But yeah. Is it really 4:00?
NJ: I think that that's what the quote is, but I'm not sure. That's what I've heard anyway. Nothing good happens after 4:00 a.m.
AI: Oh. Maybe it's my mom just bending the rules.
NJ: Could be. Have your parents ever asked you about family plans?
AI: Like, for my family plans?
NJ: Yes.
AI: No. That's really funny. No.
NJ: That makes one of us.
AI: Well, it just depends. It depends on like family plans, because it goes back to me and how I--. Oh, this is definitely a difference between my brother and myself: how we dated in high school. He actually just broke up with his girlfriend of almost two years, and he was very open about his relationship, and he's very still open about it with my parents. But for me, I was more--. For me, I'm not going to present my parents with a boyfriend unless I think that it's someone that I could see myself ending up with, because my mom's always been that--excuse me--dating is trying to find who you're going to marry. And I think that that's a very big difference in dating, especially in middle school and high school, in Mexico and here: that people don't really think about it that way. You're not searching for your future wife. It's just like, you're just dating, or you're just going out. Or you're talking, whatever that word means. But then in Mexico, there's more of a formality, and maybe that's--. I kind of grew up around that culture and seeing that, especially when I would go back and see it within my cousins and the relationships that they had and on TV and different shows.
There's a difference between dating and actually being someone's boyfriend and girlfriend, or partner. It's a more formal difference between just seeing other people and figuring out who you want to date formally. It's called to declare one's self--declararse. When you are dating someone in Mexico, at least from what I've seen, you declare yourself when you say, "I want to be your girlfriend" or "I want to be your boyfriend." It's usually, "I want to be your boyfriend" or "I want you to be my girlfriend" or however. "I want to date you." And the other person says, "Okay," or "No." But then here it's kind of weird, and I've seen that, especially in college where it's blurry and people never really know what's going on. And people don't communicate, which is what I have seen and it's kind of an issue and I don't like it.
So I usually don't date people because I expect communication, especially communication that I've seen within my parents' marriage. So I kind of blame my dad for me not dating people because he's been such a good partner to my mom. I think it's unfair to guys my age to do that, because my dad is married to my mom, but I expect the very open and very mutually respectful relationship that I see in my parents. And my brother's like, if he likes a girl, he'll ask them out, and then I'm less prone to be in a relationship than my brother. But I think that also goes to me projecting myself from societal issues and guys, I guess. I'm not saying guys are bad. My mom's always been, she's always like, "Don't worry about finding someone." And she's like, "It'll come, it'll happen," which is very different because I know a lot of my friends will be like, "Oh, I go home and it's like, 'Why aren't you dating someone? Why don't you have a girlfriend? Why don't you have a boyfriend? When are you gonna get married?'"
NJ: When you say "home," do you mean Charlotte?
AI: Mhm.
NJ: Okay.
AI: Yeah, like I know a lot of friends here at UNC that will tweet or text me or be like, "My mom hit me the question again. Why am I not dating someone?" Or like, "I hate that conversation with my uncle about why I'm not dating someone." Or my grandma asking, "When are you going to bring someone home?" And for me, I've never gotten that, because I think my parents want me to fulfill myself professionally first and then find someone, or find them at the same time. But they're not really rushing me to find someone. I don't know. And my mom's very cool with my brother dating because he's not very serious about it. He's just like, "I like her, we're not going to get married or anything." That's what he says. So they don't, which is actually really weird. They've kind of just been like, "You'll find someone eventually."
NJ: Why do you say it's weird?
AI: Well, because of the differences that I had never thought about. Like the fact that they've never asked me, and when I have dated people in high school--well, "dated" people in high school--I never told them because I just said, "Oh, it's not serious, so it's not worth telling my parents about." Because then my dad would be worried. My dad would be worried, my mom would be like, "Oh, where are you going? Is Billy going to be there?" And for me, it's never been like--. If I am with someone, I don't think I would do anything that they would need to worry about, in terms of things that they probably don't think that I should be doing, but I don't know. I never dated people in high school. I was too busy. Yeah, I don't know.
NJ: It does sound like you had a busy high school career.
AI: No, I was so busy in high school. I think I broke up with my two "boyfriends"--which weren't really my boyfriends because they never saw me--because they never saw me, or because I was so involved in other things. Most of my friends were guys, just because I could relate to them more because most of my cousins were guys. And guys are less complicated in terms of--. Generally, in my experience, the men that I have known are less complicated than women. So I just enjoy simplicity. I broke up with one of my boyfriends in high school because he didn't like that I had so many guyfriends. And so I was like, well, my best friend's a guy too and he went to my high school, so I was like, "Well, you can accept my friends, or you can be my friend." So I was busy.
NJ: That's great. Well, I think that concludes our interview. I want to thank you so much--
AI: You're welcome.
NJ: For opening up about your family and your experiences, and I will be following up with you at some point to talk about details.
AI: Thank you.
NJ: Thank you!