Gloria Valdez

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Interview Text and Audio


Interview topics included Gloria Valdez’s immigration story, her educational background, the successes of the Don Jose shop in Carrboro, North Carolina, her opinions of the Latino and American relationships in the Carrboro and Chapel Hill, N.C. community, the relationships Valdez and the Don Jose shop have created with the community, the rights of Latinos in the community, and Valdez’s opinion about Latino integration in our society. Valdez believes Carrboro, N.C. is more integrated than segregated and she feels very safe as a Latino immigrant in this community. Most of the costumers of the Don Jose shop are not in fact Mexican, but come from a wide variety of ethnicities, primarily American. Valdez speaks both Spanish and English to her costumers and has made many American friends. She feels comfortable contacting the Carrboro and Chapel Hill, N.C. police if she needs to and believes she is an equal to other ethnicities in this community. She agrees it is important for Latino immigrants to learn English, primarily because it will make their lives easier as they live in a predominately English speaking community. Valdez stresses the importance of education for immigrants and especially for her three children. The lack of education for most Latino immigrants is what Valdez believes to be the biggest barrier preventing complete integration in Carrboro, N.C. Although Valdez is happy with her career today she still dreams of attending nursing school one day in order to become a nurse. Valdez is a hardworking single mother and store owner and although she loves staying involved with the community, she has not yet had the chance to visit the Human Rights Center in Carrboro, N.C. but hopes to in the near future.



Miranda Wodarski: My name is Miranda Wodarski and I am a sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill. I am conducting an oral history project for a course I am taking that focuses on Latino perspectives and Mexican migration. This course requires I conduct four interviews with Carrboro or Chapel Hill community members in order to learn about a chosen topic. My project focuses on Human Rights for Latinos in the Carrboro and Chapel Hill community. I am conducting these interviews with hopes to learn more about human rights with regards to the immigrants in Carrboro and Chapel Hill in order help link the American population with the immigrant community. It is Tuesday April 10th and it is about 5:15pm in the afternoon.

Good afternoon Ms. Valdez, How are you today?

Gloria Valdez: Just fine, thank you.

M: I have already interviewed Officer Charlie Pardo, the Chapel Hill Latino Liaison Officer, and Dr. Judith Blau, the founder of the Human Rights Center in Carrboro and Rafael Gallegos, a Mexican immigrant and the associate director of the Human Rights Center in Chapel Hill. My project focuses on the assimilation of Latino immigrants into the Chapel Hill and Carrboro community and now that I have spoken to an Officer and to two Human Rights Activists, I would now like to interview you, Ms. Valdez, as you are an immigrant and the storeowner of Don Jose Tienda, living in the Carrboro and Chapel Hill community.

I would like to provide you with some background information as to why I am conducting this project. Latinos are today’s fastest growing minority in North Carolina. Recently the town of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and surrounding areas have seen a steady growth in this segment of the population. As I previously told you, I am currently in a global studies course focused on Latino perspectives and Mexican immigration to North Carolina. I have recently been to Guanajuato, Mexico to gain a greater understanding of the factors which fuel immigration to the United States and to gain a greater appreciation of the conditions of the sending communities. This immigration influx however, alters the dynamics of a traditionally homogenous community.

Much of the recent immigration in North Carolina is unwanted and therefore when immigrants do arrive to our community, community members become very hostile and unwelcoming towards the immigrants, creating a segregated community. One of my goals of this project is to discover why nearly half of Americans believe immigrants are having a bad influence in our community. Another goal of mine is to discover ways to overcome these negative opinions Americans have towards immigrants and to help produce better relationships between immigrants and Americans in my community. I believe your initiative to own a Latino business in the Carrboro community is a great effort to integrate our community and would like to learn more about your background as an immigrant and as a Latino store owner in our community.

I am currently a member of the organization called Linking Immigrants to New Communities (LINC) at UNC and I am on the “Know Your Rights” committee. Through this committee and through the process of this project, I hope learn more about the rights immigrants are entitled to in our community and to teach other Americans and Latinos about these rights in order for relationships to grow. I also volunteer at Abby Court as an ESL teacher and last semester I volunteered at Frank Porter Graham Elementary as a classroom helper in a Spanish dual-language class. I am still tutoring one of the first graders in Spanish reading and writing this semester.

I have always loved coming to Don Jose to look around and to eat homemade corn tortillas! I am very impressed by the success of this tienda in our community. This interview will be archived in the Southern Oral History Project Database in Wilson Library at UNC and will be open for all students to access and to listen to. By teaching others of your migration story and successes, I hope to improve the lives of Latinos in our community.

With all that being said, I would like to focus today’s interview not only on your immigration story, but on the successes of Don Jose, on the relationships you and your tienda have created with the Carrboro/Chapel Hill community, and on the rights you are given as an immigrant in this society. By asking you these questions, I hope to learn more about the current status of the relationships between immigrants and Americans in our community and ways in which we can help. Let’s begin.

Firstly, could you please describe your immigration process to the United States and to North Carolina? Where are you from? When did you leave your home town? Why did you leave your hometown? And how long ago was this?

GV: Okay, I leave in 1998 and I leave whenever I was 14 years old, so my family brought me over here.

M: From Mexico?

GV: From Mexico City.

M: Okay. Why did your family decide to migrate to the United States?

GV: Um, no idea but I mean one day they say "we have to leave" and that was it.

M: Did you come directly to Carrboro?

GV: No, we ended up in San Antonio, Texas. And uhh in a little town called, shh I cannot remember the name. But it was it was like 20 something years ago.

M: When did you move to Carrboro?

GV: In 1997. Hmm hmm.

M: Do you live with your family here in Carrboro?

GV: Yea, I made my own family now, so I live with my kids and I have 3 kids, that's what I live. And I’m I’m a single mother.

M: Do you still have family who live in Mexico?

GV: Only 2 brothers, yea.

M: Do you wish that they would migrate to the United States as well? Why or why not?

GV: They have their own mind and they decide not to come and living here no more, you know. They came and see the kind of life we have, and they they didn't like it so they went back.

M: When did they go back?

GV: Umm I believe it was 19 around 1993 and 94.

M: Did they leave San Antonio, or did they come to Carrboro as well?

GV: No, they leaved San Antonio.

M: Could you please describe the beginnings of Don Jose Tienda? Why did you decide to open this shop?

GV: Um I always, I always had the, the idea to have my own store. And I was working for several years in a gas station. That's where I learned how to do the business, how to run the store, how to take care of my customers you know that, it was 7, 7 years that they give me, they provide all the information that I need once I got all that, I say "Well I think I'm ready" so we decided to get the, the Tienda Don Jose.

M: That's great. Why did you decide to open Don Jose in Carrboro?

GV: Well, uh, the guy who offered us the store, he was the one who uh started the business, we just buy it from him and we just rented it and we've been renting it for 8 years now.

M: I see that Don Jose also has a salon and a restaurant. Have these always been part of your store?

GV: No, this is coming with the economy. The economy is really bad right now so we had to do something different. Something unique. Um, that is what started it. You know, everyone was saying, "Why?" you know, and I said, "Because we need to promote people." I mean once you get in the store you say, "well can I eat, can I have a haircut, can I have a phone, can I buy something, you know?" And you can have all of these in uh Don Jose.

M: That’s such a great idea.

GV: Hmm hmmm.

M: Please describe the products you sell at Don Jose. Are they all Mexican products? Where do you obtain these products to sell?

GV: Well, most of them are Mexican products. And we rent it from Atlanta. Most of them, they come from Atlanta because I mean they have to uh come out from the process, you know. And that is where they stop, in Atlanta, and then everybody deliver from Atlanta to over here. To Carrboro.

M: What kind of food does your restaurant sell?

GV: All the Mexican products. I started with the tacos, the burritos, everything is from Mexico.

M: What is your favorite food that you sell here?

GV: (laughing) hmm the tacos. I love the tacos.

M: Tacos de carne?

GV: Si. De carnitas, yea, those are the best ones.

M: Cool. When I went to Mexico for Spring Break, I watched women who live in the community of El Gusano, Guanajuato make fresh corn tortillas every day. They would wake up every morning before sun rise and go to El Molina with their fresh corn and use a tortilla machine to make fresh tortillas daily. Do you sell fresh corn tortillas?

GV: Yes we do. Yes we do and that's a one of the best products that we have because you can, whenever you come over here, you can have the fresh tortillas every day.

M: Have you always had the tortilla machine?

GV: Uh I believe, it was like one year after we got the store. Yea, we've had the machine.

M: Do they taste like the tortillas in Mexico?

GV: Uh a little bit different. Because over there, you do the process from the beginning. Over here, so many laws that you have get____? It's something similar but it's not the original thing.

M: Please describe the costumers who come to your store. Are they mostly Mexican immigrants?

GV: No, no we have all kind of population. And uh we try to, induce to come and eat and try our Mexican products because uh since we came from Mexico, we try to be original. You know bring the Mexican, the original Mexican food here. You know, and so we we have an advantage. We know how to prepare it, so that's what we offer to our customers. So we have all kinds of customers.
M: Are they mostly American?

GV: Yes.

M: Okay. What are some of your most popular products?

GV: Umm I say the the the the food. You know, that's that's what we sell the most. You know, the torta, the tacos, yea.

M: Do Americans buy the tortas and tacos?

GV: They do. And they love it. Once they try it, they keep on coming back, you know. And we try to tell them to eat something different every time, you know. We don't want it for them to just eat tacos or burritos, you know. There's a time whenever you say "enough of that" you know and we don't want that. We want to try to make different things so they can keep on coming.

M: Please describe the employees of Don Jose Tienda. Are they your family members? Are they all immigrants? And do they speak English?

GV: Um, most of them are my family. And they all speak English. And they know how to cook really good. That's one of the advantages. You know, because I said that's the basic, you know. If we don't have somebody who really cooks the, you know, not know how to cook, we're not going to make it, you know, in this economy. Um yea, so we have to be family and we all work together.

M: Do your kids work here?

GV: From time to time, yes. They they they, they have to come. You know, because they even if they don't want to keep in the line to working like me, you know, um I push them to come, and you know help me a little bit, you know. And to tell them, if you don't want this, you have some many choices in life. You can go to college; you can do whatever you want to. But in the meantime, you have to learn the business, so they know where we're coming from and how hard we work.

M: That's a great opportunity for them.

GV: Hmmm hmmm.

M: Did you know English when you first came to the United States? If not, how did you learn the language? Was this difficult?

GV: No whenever I came to the United States, I didn't know any English but then brother put me in a school and then we, I finished high school and uh take like 1 or 2 years of college, so yea, that's how I learned.

M: After college, were you fluent in English?

GV: Yes.

M: Very nice. I hope after college I'm fluent in Spanish. (Gloria laughs) When Americans come to shop in Don Jose Tienda, do they communicate with you much? Do you speak with them in English? Overall, do you believe your American customers are friendly towards you?

GV: Yes, at the beginning I feel a little scared. Because I mean, you think that they are different people, and we all are the same. You know, we all have feelings; we all have sentiments, so everything is the same. You be kind to them, they want to be kind to you. You know, so no difference you know even if Hispanic people, you know sometimes they walk in, and sometimes they feel afraid, so I welcome them. So they they they can say you know, you know there's nothing wrong to go over there or you know, not to be scared.

M: Do you speak English with the Americans?

GV: Yes, yes and they practice speaking Spanish and that's the same way. If they want to speak to me in Spanish, I’ll do it because they are trying to learn, they try to learn our language, and it's the same way you know. It's back and forth, you know. So yea. I try to speak to them in English or in Spanish, either way.

M: Do you appreciate their efforts to speak with you in Spanish?

GV: Very much, very much because I think my language is not easy. And same it was with me whenever I was learning English, you know. Yea.

M: Great. How often do you communicate with Americans, either at Don Jose or outside of work?

GV: Most of the time. And sometimes you just, whenever you want to speak Spanish, you speak English and whenever you want to speak English you speak Spanish, so it's kind sometimes it's kind of, you mix it up and you try to be, you try to focus in what you are talking about or who you're talking to, you know, so you don't want to be offended. But I mean, it’s it's, sometimes it's kind of hard, you know, for us. Yea.

M: Do you have many American friends?

GV: Hmmm yea, I do. I do
M: How did you meet them?

GV: In in this store. You know most of them is in the store and I'm so glad because whenever they see me out of the store, they recognize me, and they hug me, and they say, "how I'm doing," and, and the same way, you know, in the other way, you know, I feel so happy whenever I see them because they're not in the store you know. And I'm so glad when they recognize me whenever I'm outside.

M: How do you meet Americans in Carrboro or Chapel Hill outside of Don Jose?

GV: Most of them, it's in the mall. That's the place most people go, you know and that's where I go most of the time, you know.

M: Which mall do you go to?

GV: South point.
M: Do you know many Americans who speak Spanish?

GV: Hmm no no not that many, not that many.

M: How do you feel Latinos are treated by Americans in our community? Do you believe Latinos are treated as as equals? Do you think Americans look down on immigrants in our community?

GV: I don't think so. I don't think so. That was my first impression. But it's not like that, you know. I think we all try to be equal and now that we know about our our races, you know, you know most people try to be kind to everybody, not only to Hispanic people but all of us. You know, I mean, we try to be one community and that's really good.

M: I agree with that. How would you describe the relationship between immigrants in the Carrboro/Chapel Hill community with the American population? Do you believe your rights are guaranteed?

GV: Not totally, but most of the times everything is, is, is, is right, you know.

M: What are some exceptions?

GV: Uh some exceptions whenever there’s always some racist people, you know, everywhere, not even in the white community, also in the Hispanic community, you know. Some people because they think they were born over here they are Chicanos, that's what they, we call them. Sometimes they often you know, it's it's the same you know, they say the thing to or whatever you know, and I think we are all equal, but at the same time there's always like other differences, you know.

M: Do you believe that immigrants have the same types of jobs as the Americans do in our community?

GV: Not yet. Not yet. And it's not because um we cannot do it, it's because our education. Our education has to be in a higher level. That's what I think.

M: That leads me to my next question? Are the majority of immigrants in our community educated?
GV: No. No. And and and it's its really hard and sad to know like whenever a girl is like 16, 17 is already pregnant. So what do they do? Drop of school, take care of the baby, go in a low chop job, you know. And that's what is pushing us down, you know. I think we have to educate our sons to tell them, "We know you're going to have a relation with a guy, or you're going to have a relation with a woman, but take care of yourself. Education comes first." And that's how we lived at the last time, you know. We got pregnant first, we got a job, and then we tried to do something. But that's, that's, that's not right. That's not the way we're supposed to do it. We're supposed to do it all the other way back. And that's what is keeping us in the low jobs.

M: Please describe your high school education and your college education that you had in San Antonio.

GV: I love to go to school, but I didn't have enough money to keep on going. I mean, I have a great school, I mean I was having always diplomas, I was having the highest scores in my grades but like I said, not having enough money, that's what pushed me down. And whenever I got pregnant, I said, "You know, that's it." You know, "that's it for me." But now that I have this, I said, "No, we can keep on going, you know. We can keep on being somebody." Like I always wanted to be a nurse. I said that's my dream job, you know. And I'm gonna do it, you know, once my kids get out, you know, go out and do go to school go to college, because I always push them you know. I say go to college, go to college, please don't disappoint me, you know. And so I think I'm going to keep on going with my dream. You know, I think I'm going to do it.

M: That's great. You definitely should.

GV: Hmm hmm.

M: Have you lived in any other states?

GV: Nope this is only the two states that I've been living in, San Antonio and here.

M: Okay. After you moved to North Carolina, who was your first American friend? How did you meet? Please describe your relationship with this person.

GV: Um, he was a really good friend of mine. Uh, he used to cut yards. But I mean he had a really high education. He went to college, and he finished. And he was the person who opened my eyes, you know. Because I was thinking, oh okay one day I'm going to get pregnant and then I'm gonna, uh you know, get a little job and, you live my life, you know. But he was the one who pushed me and said, "You can do better than this. You know, you can, you can really make your dream come true." You know, and he was a really really nice person to me. He, he still live in San Antonio. And uh we still communicate from time to time.

M: Did you have a job when you first moved to North Carolina?

GV: Uh yes. I came with the promise that I was going to have a job. And I got it. Um we came on November 24, on the Turkey Day. And then on the 25th I was working, in the gas station. So yea.
M: That's amazing. What were some of your goals for your move to North Carolina?
GV: Uh, truly I didn't have no goals. You know.

(Gloria answers a question that her brother asks her behind the cash register at the front of the store. Gloria replies "de seis." I think he was asking her about a price for an item, and then she forgot the question I had asked her right before.)

Uh huh. Umm. (Whispering) What was the question?

M: (With a smile) It's okay.What were some of your goals for your move to North Carolina?

GV: Well, whenever I came over here, I didn't have no goals. But whenever I see how the state was and everything, so different, you know. See what happened in San Antonio, you cannot leave the house. There were a lot of, bad things happening over there. But once I moved over here, I said, "Oh my god. This is an, this is the true, the true American Dream, you know. You can leave the door open, you can go to the store, and you don't feel like there are people pushing you around, you know. And I felt so happy whenever I came over here it was like another country, you know. Totally different. It was really nice when I moved over here.

M: Have you ever visited the Human Rights Center here in Carrboro? The Human Rights Center used to be located in Abbey Court but has recently moved to Barnes Street. Do you know anything about this Center? If so, do you think the Human rights center works to ensure the rights of Latinos in this community?

GV: I truly, I’ve never been there. I spend most of my time in the, in the store because right now the economy is not giving me the opportunity to hire somebody so they can work with me. But you know, even if usually I can go and visit it, I will do it, definitely. Because I mean, um, I like to get involved with all of that, you know.

M: Have you heard of the Human Rights Center?

GV: No.

M: According to your experience, which rights are most commonly violated for Latinos in our community?
GV: Um I don't think they are violated. Latinese people drink too much and get involved in so many problems, you know like I said. They may come, and live with a woman and then they start fighting, so when Latinese woman come we have to get more educated, you know. In order not to suffer all of those consequences. Or to think that that we're not treated right, you know. If if we can get more educated, that's going to be the key, you know. So we can be treated more like a, everybody else.

M: Have there been any efforts, either from the Latino community or from the American community to increase education for Latinos?

GV: Oh I think so. Now that my kids go to school, um they always tell me, you know, like my oldest son, he doesn't have the capacity to go to school like the regular person. So they told me that there are so many other ways that he can do it, you know. He says he's gonna graduate, he's going to do right in the school, and um whatever he wants to do, he's going to do it, you know. It's not like, okay he cannot do it, he needs to give up, you know. And um, I'm so glad, you know, I'm so glad that there's so many programs that they can help them. He goes to Pace Academic, you know, like I said. He always have um learning disabilities, you know, but he if he he does have that learning disability, it doesn't mean that he cannot have an education, you know. He can keep on doing whatever he wants to do, and he's going to do it, you know.

M: Great. What issues have you faced personally as a Latino living in a primarily American community?

GV: Um, at the beginning I believe that it was the misunderstanding of speaking another language. Because if you can understand other people say, then you will say nothing is happening but if you___ the words, you know, maybe you’re thinking oh they don't want me over here, or they want don't don't they want me to leave. But I think, I've seen nobody treat me bad, really, you know. Sometimes, like I said, it's a misunderstanding. But once you, you you you speak a language of the person and tell them what's going on or let me know if I did something wrong, then you can see that that no nothing is happening, you know. But uh, I mean you you can put the the right words in the right moment and everything, you know, I mean everything should be fine.

M: Great. In your opinion, what reputations do Latinos in our community have, according to Americans? Do you agree with these?

GV: Yea. Yea, I think it's (pausing, not understanding)

M: Do you think Americans have a certain opinion of Latinos in our community?

GV: I think so, I think so. They have, everybody has a different opinion. Like I said, if you see somebody drinking and driving, then you're going to think oh they're all the same, you know. If you see somebody really working, then you’re going to think, oh these these people really work hard, you know. Oh, I mean there's so many things that can separate us from them, you know. But at the end, we're all equal, you know. We all have mistakes and we make mistakes.
M: Do you believe that most Americans understand the mistakes that are made?

GV: Some of them, they do, some of them, they don't.

M: Do you know any immigrants who are unhappy in the Carrboro/Chapel Hill community?

GV: There's so many, and they give them. You know, that you know this is not for me, I'm going back to my country, you know. And it's really sad, you know. That uh, they don't get it, you know. The opportunity that this country gives us. But I mean you cannot do anything to change their mind you know. Maybe it's because they didn't try hard enough or maybe they didn't want to try hard enough.

M: So are you happy living in the Carrboro and Chapel Hill community?

GV: Very happy, very happy.

M: Why would you say that?

GV: Because, like I said, um this state has given me the opportunity that I want, you know. My kids are in a school, I have a job. Um the weather, you know everything. Well for me, you know, like I said, this is my opinion, I like it. I like it, you know. Um I like that my kids, I don't have to go and look after them, you know around 11 or 12 because they're doing drugs, or whatever. You know, I think for a single mother, going through that is going to be really hard, you know. Like I said, you know if they don't come home to sleep, they're they're they're really good kids, you know. And you know and I said, this is, this is good, you know. This is good.

M: Great. After traveling through many cities in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico and after staying in different towns with different families, I have a better understanding of their opinions on immigration and the hardships the immigration process has caused. I discovered the primary strug, struggle concerning immigration in many rural towns of Mexico is not the complexity of the physical journey to the United States, but it is the separation of the family that makes the process of immigration extremely difficult for family members on each side of the border. It is common that immigrants do not want to develop relationships here because they are afraid of losing their strong relationships with their family back home and they do not want to split their lives into two places. Do you think this is still the case for many immigrants? (Gloria drinks a tamerine drink that she sells in her shop as I am speaking)

GV: I think so. I think so because I mean they wish they can have the money to keep on doing the projects. But they don't have it, so they have to come over here and work really hard. You know, so the family can stay behind. They hope they can have the bond, you know, not looking for somebody else, or don't work with somebody. But it’s really hard, you know, whenever you leave somebody behind, and uh you have to support over here and over there, you know. And and the men, they have to be working 7 days a week in sometimes 2 or 3 jobs just to keep the dream and you know because most of the people, they want to build a house, they want to build a business, but nothing is perfect, you know. Sometimes people, they said, uh we're sending money to make the house, and then they're not doing it. So it's kinda really hard.

M: Do you miss your brothers in Mexico?

GV: Not really because I talk to them a lot, you know. And it's so many years. It’s like uh you know they're there, but you don't really miss them, you know. It's it's it's like you know, no not really.

M: Have you noticed signs of this hardship in our community? Can you relate to this hardship? How do you handle this hardship? Is the Chapel Hill community helpful when it comes to easing this hardship for immigrants?

GV: I think so, yea. Yea, and like I said, you know, over here you have a lot of jobs, you know. And um. I think it’s not that hard, you know.

M: Do you know any immigrants who are completely content living in the Carrboro/Chapel Hill community?

GV: No I don't.

M: Please explain.

GV: Uhh. Well I don't know how to explain it but I don't, I really don't.

M: Is there anybody who is completely happy with their decision to move from Mexico to Carrboro?

GV: Well, and and here you have so many different opinions, you know. And yea, I know a few people they're really happy, you know. And they even moved their family over here. And um, they try to, everybody try to do their best, you know. To be happy, you know. But I see, yea yea I think I know a few people that are happy, including myself.

M: Great. As an immigrant into an English speaking community, do you think it is important to learn English? Why or why not?

GV: It's very important, because you are in another country. And it's not only about talking about it or or or try to talk. But to understand the laws, you know. So you can be on the right track, you know. And um, all the signs, and most of the commercials, they are all going to be in English. So, you know, you you try to integrate in this community. And for that, yea, you have to speak English.

M: Do you feel safe in the Carrboro/Chapel Hill community?

GV: Yes I do.

M: If you ever had a legal issue, would you feel comfortable contacting the police?

GV: All the time, and I've even done it before. Like uh whenever, you know, there's, there's some cases over here that we had to call them. And yes I feel safe calling the police.

M: Could you please describe one of those cases?

GV: Yea whenever, uh, we used to have this girl working for us and uh these two Mexican guys get into the store and and took some money, you know, we called right right away the police and um I feel really comfortable talking to them, you know. And I feel that she was safe, you know. Even that they took a little money, you know, we can re remake it but whatever happened to her, you know. I mean if something were to happened to her, you know it's it it was going to be really hard for us, you know. Hmm hmm.

M: As an outsider, our community seems to be very segregated. For example, when I walk through Carrboro I immediately can distinguish which, which stores are owned by Latinos and which are owned by Americans. Do you believe our community is really as segregated as it seems?
GV: No, and and there has to be different kinds of stores, you know. And it’s only, not only for the Latinos and the Americans, but there are also Indian stores and Chinese stores. But we all, we are looking for own products, we're looking for our own food, you know. Everybody's different, you know. Like I would never eat something like an Indian um food, you know, because it’s really different, you know. But I know their needs, you know. If if if they need a store, they're going to have a store so they can come and buy the products, you know. And that's that's really nice, you know. That you can come in another country, and have your own products.

M: You’ve never tried Indian food before?

GV: I did, but I didn't like it. (Both Gloria and I begin to laugh)

M: Awww. I love Indian food, but I also love Mexican food too. So.

GV: I was like no no no please, you know. I don't think that I've ever tasted it. I only tasted one; maybe I need to try something else. Because, I mean, there's like, even in the Mexican, I mean there's a bunch of plates, you know. And that's, maybe that's what I need to do, try something else different, you know. But the first time I tried it I was like no! No more. (Laughing)

M: I think you should give it another shot. Because for example, I love quesadillas and tamales, but I don't really like tortas.

GV: Hmm hmm

M: So I tried something else after I tried a torta and ended up loving it.

GV: Hmmm.

M: So you should try to give it a chance.

GV: (laughing) I'm gonna do that.

M: Great. How do you think Americans can make it easier for immigrants to feel more at home in our community?

GV: I think they've already done it, you know. I think everything right now is fine, you know. Like I said, you're free to have your own store, you’re free to go anywhere you want, and you know my sons, they love to go to the movies, so whenever we go, we feel really comfortable, you know. So, I think, I think that they've already done it you know.

M: That's great to hear. What major improvements do you think Carrboro and Chapel Hill has seen in regards to improving rights for citizens?

GV: Hmmm hmmm. I don't get the question.

M: Okay, have, has the Carrboro and Chapel community improved their policies to help give give citizens better equality and rights?

GV: I think so. Uh I hear they're bringing more Hispanic police. Which, we needed it. And they're teaching us, you know, um that we have to obey the laws. Like not crossing the red lights. Sometimes we think, oh I still have time, and you cross it. You know, those are the little things that can make a big mistake or a big accident, know. (Baby crying in the background). And we learned it, and liked I said, with more Hispanic police, you know, whenever we talk to them and we can speak the same language, they give us the right information, and that's really good.

M: That's great. The organization I'm involved with, Linking Immigrants to New Communities, at UNC...

GV: Hmmm hmmm.

M: We just went to Carrboro elementary school and taught an adult ESL class about traffic rights that they are entitled to. And we taught them both in English and in Spanish. So we're working to improve the rights of Latinos too, so they can better understand which rights they have.

GV: Hmm hmm. Hmmm hmm.

M: I think personally relationships will help improve the overarching relationship in our community with Latinos. Have you made any personal relationships with Americans to improve the ethnic barrier? How?

GV: Whenever people come over here we always try to talk about that, you know. Yes and sometimes to make a conversation, since we spend so many hours over here, and some people you can see that they really try to help us. You know, to improve our community, you know. And other people, they say no, no I'm moving out of this country because there's too many immigrants, there's too many _____, you know. And it's, it's not right, you know, and it's not true, you know. This country builds from immigrants, you know. And unfortunately we have to live the way it is. Because I mean, only the Indians and the Mexicans were the first ones. But you know, everybody else comes from another country and we are all trying to integrate and to do our best. That's what I think.

M: Are you friends with any American store owners? (Baby screaming in the background)

GV: Americans that own the stores? (I nod "yes" to her) Umm I know a few people, yes. Yea.

M: In Carrboro?

GV: Yea. Uh no, in Chapel Hill.

M: Could you give an example?

GV: Yea. Um Merritt’s store, the one who makes sandwiches. They're they're really good friends of mine. Yea.

M: Great, I love that store.

GV: Hmm hmm.

M: Overall, what do you think is the number one problem for Latinos in our community and what do you think is the best solution to this problem?

GV: I think they're kind of afraid, you know. That uh we don't understand all the laws, you know. That's one of the problems, you know. If we can understand that, everything should be better. And another thing that we should stop doing, is like uh, the men, they should stop drinking too much, you know. That's one of the worst problems that we have, you know. Whenever they start drinking, there's so many problems, you know. And um unfortunately, whenever you're going to be a man (baby screaming in the background), you know, they said you have to drink because that's going to make you make you a man, you know, and that’s totally wrong, you know. (Airplane noises in the background). If if the father and the mother can say you go to school, you're going to be a professional, then you're going to be somebody, you know. But we go from the wrong answer, you know, I guess.

M: Would you recommend that other Mexicans immigrate to the Carrboro and Chapel Hill area (baby screaming in the background again).

GV: Yea. Yea.

M: What is the number reason you would say yes?

GV: This is a safe town, you know. I think that Durham is really bad, you know. That's when I say, you want safety, you can come over here, you know. Everything is a little expensive over here, but you're paying for the quality of life that you have.

M: Have any of your friends from Mexican recently immigrated to Carrboro and Chapel Hill?

GV: No, no. I came a long long time ago, so I lost all commun, all communication with with my friends, you know. Yea. (Baby talking in background)

M: Do you ever return to Mexico to visit your family?
GV: From time to times, but I mean I have to stay in here most of the times. Like I said, I have my three kids, you know. And I have to see after them, you know, like um, you know, I have to be there for them day after day, you know. And um like I said, I want a better education for them, you know. So I have to be here most of the time, yea. But I, yea, I go back from time to time, but not of often, as I used to do it.

M: Do you ever think you would move permanently back to Mexico?

GV: No. No. It's not for me no more, you know. It's kinda hard. Because you understand you you where you're coming from. But reality, you you don't get used to it, you know. I mean I don't think if I can do it, you know, going back.

M: Do you think your kids are happy living in the Carrboro and Chapel Hill community?

GV: They are very happy. Even the two who were born in Texas, um, I never hear about them talking about returning to Texas, you know. They always said it’s too hard over there. And way way too hard, you know, that's what they said. And like I said, we want move over here, we buy a house, so we don't have nothing behind, you know, really, you know.

M: Okay, that's great. And what schools did you say your kids go to?

GV: Right now, one goes to Pace Academic. The other one goes to Carrboro High school and the little one goes to Colebrook.

M: Do they have many American friends?

GV: They're all American friends only.

M: And do your kids speak English?

GV: Yes.

M: Did they learn English at school?

GV: No, I believe, well yea most of the time in the school. Since I put them really young in Kindergarten they start learning in um English. In fact most of them, they didn't know they were Hispanic, you know. They find out like a two years ago (laughing). And the little one feels really sad because he says, "Momma, do you know we are the mi minority? And we got the lowest job?" And I said, "But you don't have to think that." I said, "You know, you are an American citizen, and then you can do whatever you want, you know. Your skin is dark because we are dark. But that doesn't mean that you are lower than anybody, you know. You are at the same level, you can have the same education, and you can be whatever you want. He wants to be a lawyer or a police man, so we'll see.

M: That's great advice.

GV: Hmmm hmm.

M: And a great goal.

GV: Hmm hmm.

M: Okay to end our interview, for the last question, what advice would you give to Americans who believe that Carrboro and Chapel Hill is a segregated community. How would you tell them that it is really not as segregated as it seems?

GV: What they think. Hopefully we can change the way they think, you know. They say that we are not so bad you know, as a community. We work really hard, you know. And we try to make some goals, you know. And hopefully we'll make it. But like I said, if we can change the way they think, you know. Unfortunately uh whenever they took away the driver license, it was because this guy kept on drinking and kept on drinking and he ended up killing two people, I don't know, I read it in the paper and I said that's, it's it's not everybody, you know. It's only a few, you know. And um if we just can change their mind, you know, to see us the way we are, that we have it hard, you know. And we can, we can really try to do our best, you know. Like I said, you know, if I can, if I can uh, it's like I keep on telling my kids, you know, if you can finish an education, you you you're going be really really well. You know, I have to be working 7 days a week because I didn't have my education, you know. But if they can do it, they're going to be living a really nice life, you know, nice, you know house, and a job, you know. If I work a job, you know that was the, I mean that would be something beautiful for me to see.

M: I think having Don Jose Tienda and being so welcoming to every costumer who comes in is a great effort to decrease the segregation in our society.

GV: Hmmm Hmmm

M: Thank you so much for your time Ms. GV: Valdez. I look forward to sharing the rest of my research with you once my project is complete.

GV: Okay, okay. We hope that we can see it and see how it ended up and what you grade you got.

M: (laughing) Yes you will. I will share with you.

GV :( laughing) Please.

M: Thank you.