Valentina Rivadeneira

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This interview is part of Hannah Jessen's investigation into the lives of the mothers of migration. Jessen is studying the relationship between mother and child, the ways mothers learn to support their families in a new context, the concerns that come with raising their children in a different country, and their hopes for their families and for themselves in the future. For this interview, Jessen sought to gain the perspective of a 1.5 generation immigrant who came here with her family at a young age. Because of the migration experience, Valentina Rivadeneira naturally dealt with changes in her relationship with her mother, and this interview reveals the ways in which those changes were different and similar from other migrant children. Rivadeneira talks about how her mother still tried to raise her children with an awareness and pride of their Ecuadorian culture. Rivadeneira compares her experience to that of her little sister, who has no memories of Ecuador. She also compares the experience to families who do not believe in God and to families who do not stay together during the migration experience. Lastly, Rivadeneira wants to someday have children of her own, and so this interview serves to show what cultural values from her native country she will try to instill into a second generation.



Hannah Jessen: This is Hannah Jessen, and today I am interviewing Valentina Rivadeneira. We are in a study room at the Undergraduate Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at approximately 6 p.m. Hi Valentina, thank you so much again for doing this interview with me. Let’s start with a little introduction of yourself: where you’re from, the things you’re studying, your family, anything you’d like to share.
Valentina Rivadeneira: Okay, well my name’s Diana Valentina Rivadeneira, but I go by Valentina, I’ve always been called Valentina. Even when my parents get mad or anything, then it’s -- it’s just always Valentina. So I don’t go by my first name, but it’s obviously still a part of me. And so I’m from Ecuador, I grew up in Ecuador and we moved to the U.S. by like the end of fourth grade, and we have been -- well my family and I have been, living in Florida for about ten years now, and I just recently transferred to the University of North Carolina the past semester during the fall term. And so this is my second semester here, and my major is biology, and I’m -- I hope to someday be able to get my PhD, and hopefully do bio-medical research and help people and that’s about it.
HJ: Awesome. Okay so can you tell me a little bit about what your past was like in Ecuador when you were younger, and then eventually why you guys decided to move here.
VR: Okay, well growing up in Ecuador, it was awesome. I think the only really -- I think at the time, the only -- I think, like the con, the pros of -- if we’re talking about the pros and cons, I think the only con would be like it was -- it’s a little bit dangerous. But it has changed a lot since we’ve moved so, and in a good way. So if anything, it’s a lot better now. But when we were there it was a bit dangerous, you know, there was really no going outside on the streets alone because either, you know, you can get robbed or they rob your bike or your wallet, you know, so I mean, it was a little bit dangerous at the time, but we -- my parents always found ways for us to not only engage in our -- in what our country can offer but also be able to build a sense of community, a sense of home there. So my dad’s side of the family is still there, where most of my mom’s side of the family lives now in the U.S. But it was awesome. I mean my parents loved taking us to kind of like the Amazon side and we loved to -- we used to take like hikes up to the waterfalls and there were just--.
HJ: Oh, wow.
VR: These huge waterfalls, and I mean Ecuador has so much to offer, and so in a sense it was nice. And I remember going to school, and you would go out to lunch, and there was just iguanas all over the place, and they were just your friends because they were just always there so--.
VR: So in that sense I mean I think -- I think now that I look back, Ecuador’s biodiversity was so evident when I was growing up just cause there was just so much around us. And it’s truly beautiful; it’s a beautiful country. So I mean, I’m -- I’m proud of where I come from, I’m proud to call it home, I’m proud to be Ecuadorian, and it really did shape who I am today. So, I would definitely say that it is part -- it’s still part of me even though I’m over here. I love going back. I probably wouldn’t go back to live, but -- because I mean I have more opportunities here, but -- and that and talking about opportunities, that’s why I -- that’s why we came here. My parents’ dream was always for us to go to American universities, to be able to have more opportunities over here. There’s just -- we really pretty much came because of the American dream. I mean to sum it up that’s what they really wanted. They wanted us to become successful in our careers and really give us a different side of life by coming over here, and that’s exactly what they were able to do. And so, you know, I want -- I did my first two years at Miami Dade College, but back in Florida--.
HJ: Right.
VR: Before I moved to here, and I remember when we first came to visit over here, my parents were in complete awe of the campus. I mean they just couldn’t believe their eyes. I mean to them it’s really a dream come true for us to be able to be here. And so -- and so, the American dream was really pretty much why we decided to come here.
HJ: Okay. And going back briefly to what you said about life in Ecuador and all of the biodiversity, is that part of the reason you’re studying biology and have an interest in that?
VR: You know, I’ve never really thought about it, but that could -- that could be one of the reasons why maybe I’m so interested in it. I think -- I think why biology is so nice is also because there’s just so much to it. It’s just very complex, but it’s still so beautiful in itself.
HJ: Mhmm.
VR: And the way that -- I mean everybody has different ways of looking at it and who created it and who’s in charge of it and who’s in charge of creating all of this, you know, all of this of what’s around us. But you know, in my sense and in my religion, it’s very amazing for me to see that my God created that and that there’s so much, you know complex things happening in our bodies and around us, and it’s just so perfect to see how everything works out. But I think much of the research that I did back home my first two years was around biodiversity, and I think maybe that could’ve been a factor into why I was so interested in it; because I did grow up with it a lot so I think I just got -- I think it just makes me appreciate it that much more if anything and really, really just enjoy it in general.
HJ: Okay, cool. Okay, so talking about your family’s decision to move here, did you personally want to move here or was that more so a decision made by your parents and was it made -- made more so by your father or by your mother or was there -- was there conversation about it--?
VR: Right.
HJ: Between the two?
VR: By this time in -- by this time in our lives, my parents were -- their marriage was very much rekindled by -- by Christianity, by God, which has made a big difference because um well obviously they weren’t gonna divorce or anything I mean they were -- they had a tough time in their lives where they were about to but --. My parents found God and that really rekindled their marriage. And I guess -- I think it was, it was -- I think it was it started a new phase -- a new phase not only in their lives, but also in ours. So that eventually led to them discussing the possibility of us coming over here, and it was really their decision on their part. For me, I was, you know, in fourth grade. I had lived a good like, what, ten years over there, and even though Ecuador was so important to me, I was still growing up. So for example, I have two older brothers so it was -- they were at that time twelve and sixteen, so it was so much harder for them to come over here because they had already their group of friends. They already had a very established life. You know, in my case, I really didn’t have that, you know. I still have my friends back there, but they’re not connections that, you know, are as strong as the ones that they had. But ultimately it was my parents’ decision, there was really no, “Oh I don’t want to go, so I’ll just stay here, and you guys can go.” No, you know, it was very much of -- you know them taking the decision and then, you know, really integrating all of us as a whole and as a family that this is something that we have to do as a family. So, even though it was their -- it was their decision, there were-- it was really important to them to not only inform us of what was going on but of what was coming in the future too because it was a -- it was definitely a bit of a struggle in the beginning, so--.
HJ: Okay, yeah that’s definitely understandable. So, speaking specifically about your mother because this project I’m doing is about the relationship between the kids and their mothers more so than with their fathers -- though that’s an interesting topic too -- I wanted to do a little comparison of the relationships between your mother and father that they had with you at the time. Was it challenging during this time for you and your mother in any way or did--?
VR: Back home, back in Ecuador? Or here?
HJ: Both and during the transition, how your relationship was with her beforehand, how it was when--.
VR: Mhmm.
HJ: She told you guys that you were going to move and kind of how it changed living in the States.
VR: Right. I think -- I think back home we were a very -- we still are -- a very close family. I think moving was very much of a really going through the fire together because there were just so many challenges and specifically economically. But I think the beautiful thing was that -- I mean my parents have always been very, very essential and important and really influential in my life. So I don’t think I can ever say that I’ve had some kind of like -- like any, any type of anger -- or like I mean we’ve had our fights or stuff, but we’ve never really been separated to the point where I can say that wow, that was a really tough time in my life where I just didn’t get along with my parents. You know, we’ve always gotten along and especially even with my mom. I think, you know and the whole daddy’s girl and -- I’ve always been very close to my dad as well. But I think as a family it was a bit hard in the beginning when we first moved here because it was so hard on the economics side and that -- I mean my parents were always working so I was basically with my brothers and taking care of my little sister all the time. So while my mom was working I basically became my sister’s best friend because I was always there for her. She was one when we came here, so I was basically taking care of my little sister while my parents had to work and stuff. So, in a way, we didn’t have that much time together when we moved -- when we moved here, and I think now that I look back I realize that it was a sacrifice on their part and also a sacrifice on our part because we didn’t get to see them as much as we would’ve wanted to. You know, we were so used to being in Ecuador and being surrounded by them so much because they were so established in the community and in their workplace. But coming here, you come with nothing, and you don’t come -- I mean you come with your degree, but you know you can say -- my dad you know, he was a great civil engineer in Ecuador, and you know wow, you know, this and that. And then you come over here, and you just don’t have anything so there’s -- you really have to start over from like just the bottom. And so that, that, that allowed -- I mean, that, I mean allowed me to grow in a way because I had to kind of step up even when I was like in fifth grade and take care of my sister while my parents were working. So I mean I think in a way, not that -- not that, you know, there’s a resentment there between them because I would never under -- you know, under-appreciate what they did for me because I mean they had a lot of sacrifice. They had to pay, they had to pay like -- they had to do so much for us, and they had to make so many sacrifices for us. So, I guess our relationship changed in a way that like our time together was not as much as it was in Ecuador. And I think when my mom -- she was always there. I mean she’s always been there but I think -- I mean during that time when we first moved here, like I said, it was just -- it was just I didn’t see her as much, you know, and I -- I don’t think there was a need to even talk about it and for her to tell me ‘hey, even though I’m here I still love you,’ because I always knew that. I always knew that she loved me, and I always knew that this was something that, you know, had to be done in order for us to move on. So I know it’s very -- I know it’s different between families because I mean some of my friends back home, had to kind of go through the same experience and they had -- they still have a lot of resentment with their parents, or you know like some of my friends, like it completely changed their relationship and stuff. But I think for me I was always aware that it was a sacrifice that they had to pay and, I had to step up as well in some way and also be able to appreciate what they were doing. So I mean, I think even though it was a different transition, I think our bond was always there. And I think if anything now we can enjoy it more because we have more time together. My parents have, I mean really built their way up into like their, their -- what they’re doing now in their work and stuff so I get to enjoy them more now. But I think that’s -- that’s really the only thing I won’t cherish is that I didn’t get to enjoy them as much because they were always so busy with work.
HJ: And where were they working?
VR: My -- I mean whatever they could find. I mean at that time, we didn’t, I don’t know -- we didn’t have -- we didn’t have -- I think that we were like with our tourist visas so I mean--.
HJ: Okay.
VR: We were -- they were just trying to find work in wherever they could. I mean my dad was delivering pizzas, and my mom would wake up with him at six in the morning, or no, at like four in the morning to go drop off newspapers--.
HJ: Wow.
VR: And ride you know, they just were in the car, and it was just whatever little job they could find, they did. So obviously these work schedules that were not family schedules because they didn’t allow them to have as much time with us. But they had to do what they had to do, and I think me and my brothers -- not my sister because my sister she was little, you know, so she didn’t have to go through so much of the emotional side of everything -- but I think me and my brothers understood that, and we always appreciated that and I mean we just kind of had to put our foot forward.
HJ: Right, and that makes sense. That’s a good way of looking at it too that you realize the sacrifices--.
VR: Yeah.
HJ: That they made.
VR: Mhmm.
HJ: Do you feel like during that time since your parents weren’t around as much and you kind of raised your sister in some ways--.
VR: Mhmm.
HJ: Do you feel like a lot of the Ecuadorian culture was lost, or do you guys still maintain that. Does your mom still strive to raise you guys with that in mind?
VR: Right, I think my parents have always made an effort to really preserve our Ecuadorian culture. Just from cooking Ecuadorian meals to really -- if you decorate -- if you go to our home, and I mean it’s very Ecuadorian -- I mean -- centered I guess you could say like it’s not, like I wouldn’t say that my mom, you know -- even just looking at the way -- I thought about this when I was looking at the questions -- even just looking at the way my mom decorates the house. Like, you know, it’s not very modern, like black and white, and you know, a touch of red. No, it’s very traditional, it’s very, a lot of earth colors, there’s a lot of Ecuadorian things hanging around the house and everything so there’s just, there’s just -- I mean, even, I think --. Well we were able to go back to Ecuador since we moved here two times, like as a whole, as a family, cause we’re a big family, so it’s kind of hard to go. But I think we’ve been back two or three times, and the last time that we went -- I think uh yeah, I think it was the last time that we went -- we had the privilege to really explore Ecuador in itself and all that it, all that it had to offer. And so we got to go to the Galapagos Islands, and that was beautiful and stuff. So I mean I think that even -- even though we’re over here, you know, and even after so much time, they still want us to really appreciate what Ecuador is. So I mean so even just taking us back after so many years and showing, ‘Hey, this is the these mountains and this is the Amazon and this is the Galapagos,’ you know like I think even now they’re still trying to implement that in our lives and to really make sure that we understand where we come from and what that -- and as a holistic view what it means truly to be Ecuadorian. So I think it’s -- it definitely persisted when we moved here, and it’s still going on today. I think my parents have always tried to in any way really include us in the culture and what not, so--.
HJ: Okay. Does your mother speak any English or--?
VR: She can defend herself. [Laughs]
HJ: Okay.
VR: She probably can’t talk like I do but um--.
HJ: Right.
VR: But she can defend herself. Like I mean she understands most of it. I think it’s hard for her to speak it, and that’s obviously because she’s definitely way past her critical point. So it’s, it’s been a lot harder for her and my dad both. But I mean she -- if me and my sister are talking in English, she would understand most of the stuff we’re saying and respond to us in Spanish. So I mean when I’ve -- I mean we’ve always talked Spanish when we’re home. Always. It’s never, I think -- I mean, we really only talk English when like -- like I’m actually one of the only ones that talks English in the house and that’s because to talk to my sister. But everybody else, everybody talks in Spanish in my house. My brothers to -- my parents to them, my brothers between each other, even my sister to my -- my mother and sister to my parents. I guess me and my little sister just get away with sometimes just kind of talking in English, but for the most part it’s always been Spanish.
HJ: Okay. So that’s good so--.
VR: Mhmm.
HJ: Yeah, that’s good that you can maintain Spanish--.
VR: Yeah, for sure, yeah.
HJ: It’s a good skill to have.
HJ: I’m really jealous, but --. Okay so, growing up in your family you said, you know, you spoke Spanish there, that your house is decorated with Ecuadorian stuff, but did you guys -- your siblings, cause you have three, correct?
VR: Yes, I have two older brothers and a little sister.
HJ: Okay, so the four of you -- do you guys feel like you associate more with American culture now or still with Ecuadorian culture, or is it kind of a mixture of both?
VR: I think for me and my older brothers for sure I think the Ecuador culture. We are very -- I mean we are -- our lives were rooted for so long in living there so I think it’s definitely part of our identity and who we are today. It is, it is the same for my sister but it’s more -- my sister it’s more because we -- my parents have raised her in a way to still maintain her culture. But I mean she came over when she was one one, you know, so for example for her, it would be more of a mix because she came here when she was so young. So she could identify with the American and the Ecuadorian. But with me and my brothers it’s so much easier for us to, I mean, you know like, talk to each other with the Ecuadorian slang, you know, or like you know certain songs that are really important or very famous in Ecuador or even certain, I don’t know, traditional plates of like the food or stuff like that, like I mean I think we identify much more with the Ecuadorian culture. And my sister’s a little bit more of a mix and--.
HJ: Cause she grew up here.
VR: Yeah, that’s because she grew up here.
HJ: Okay. Was that hard on your parents, and specifically your mother, to kind of see you guys adapting another culture, not necessarily replacing Ecuadorian culture, but kind of picking up--?
VR: Yeah, I think it was -- I think in a way with my mom, she’s not concerned with me or my brothers cause she knows how I guess secure we are in, in really our culture from Ecuador, I mean it’s -- she knows that it’s part of us. I think she’s more worried with my sister. I mean for example there has been in the last couple years, she’s had such a struggle with my little sister in getting her to learn Spanish.
HJ: Okay.
VR: Because I mean my little sister can speak Spanish, but it’s not as perfect as for example me and my brothers. So, my mom has had definitely a couple, you know, disagreements with my sister -- with my little sister here and there because she wants -- she wants --. I mean she’s been putting her in classes for Spanish outside of school, and so my sister’s like ‘Oh, I don’t want to do it,’ you know whatever, but my mom just keeps trying to, you know, instill in her like this is important, you need your second language, you need to be able to -- it’s going to benefit you later on in life, like you really need to learn this language and be able to like totally dominate it. And it’s important, like it’s -- like my -- I think my mom really has been like just so persistent with my sister on just keeping that second language there.
HJ: Good, yeah.
VR: Yeah, and as for the culture, I think my little sister has always been part of the, I mean, our Ecuadorian like household and traditions and what not and everything. So I mean that’s not narrowly the problem. I think mostly it’s more with the -- I guess like language side of it that she has a problem with.
HJ: Okay.
VR: Um, but yeah.
HJ: And since you know you’re living here now, are your brothers still in Florida with--.
VR: Mhmm, yes.
HJ: With your family and your sister obviously since she’s younger?
VR: Mhmm, yes.
HJ: Okay so you’re the only one of your family who has left.
VR: Yes. [Laughs]
HJ: How has that been for your relationship with your family and your mother, specifically, because I know it’s sometimes hardest on the moms to--.
VR: Yeah.
HJ: To let their kids go.
VR: Yeah.
HJ: How has that affected your relationship?
VR: You know, I’m very blessed to say that my parents have always supported me even with my career and even in pursuing my degree of biology, it’s been really tough. But my parents have always really been there to support me and as a matter of fact when I was applying to transfer schools, I applied to six in-state and then like three out-of-state. And I got accepted to all the Florida ones, but the only out-of-state one that accepted me was UNC. And so I was like, “Oh, you know dad, I got accepted to UNC but you know what, it’s okay, like I’ll stay in Florida, I’ll be closer to home, it’s okay, it’s not, whatever.” When they found out that they – that UNC had accepted me, they completely refused to allow me to make the decision like that, and they insisted that we have to come up here, visit, and if I see the campus and if I see the environment and if I don’t like it, then okay I can say no, but I can’t say no just because you know like I feel like it and because I haven’t been there. So they were very persistent in me coming to visit here and take a look at the campus and around here and stuff. So it was just funny because as always they were right, and I ended up loving it when I visited it, and I decided to transfer. But so I mean, they’ve always been very supportive, and when it comes to, I mean academic wise, they’ve always just wanted the – they’ve always just wanted me to take that extra step. You know, of course I miss them and they miss me, but they know that I need to be here. So I mean even when I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, you know, I really miss home or I really want to go home’ and my mom’s just -- my mom and dad ‘keep going forward’ you know, like you’ve got to do this, you know, so I mean, I mean they’re always really like strengthening me into just continuing to be here and finish my career here but--. Yeah, they’ve always been really supportive but--. I mean of course I miss home and of course they miss me. I think that’s definitely the toughest part, I think. I just recently had to make the decision to stay here for summer and take classes, and it was a whole emotional breakdown for a week because I really thought I was gonna go back home for summer, just because it’s really -- even though I do have my little family here with my friends and stuff, it’s definitely hard not to be with my family. I think I didn’t notice how close I was to them and how important they are to my life until I moved away, and I realized I mean how much I really care for them so I mean--.
HJ: Mhmm and I feel like Latino families in general just have a special bond--.
VR: [Laughs]
HJ: I feel like, they definitely -- the family is very important to them.
VR: Yeah.
HJ: And that’s very obvious.
VR: For sure.
HJ: And it’s obvious with you, which is really neat.
VR: Oh yeah, like my mom and I -- I think it even made -- I think a little -- made our relationship even stronger that I moved because we talk like all the time, like ‘Hey mom, I’m going to class.”
HJ: Since you moved here, you mean?
VR: Yeah, oh yeah. For sure. I guess when I was back home it was different because I mean I was around, around home all the time, even if I went out and stuff. But over here, I call her all the time or she calls me all the time or she or we text all the time, we Skype I mean, so I think if anything it’s really strengthened our relationship because we are really trying to continue -- I mean just really, like, continue to preserve our relationship, so--.
HJ: And because you’re realizing the dream that they kind of came here for in the first place.
VR: Yeah, oh yeah.
HJ: I’m sure they’re proud and supportive.
VR: Yeah that’s one of the things that really keeps me here is just knowing that they’re proud of me and that this is -- this is why they made so many sacrifices when they came here. And you know, all the tears and all the struggles that they went through and all the, you know, disagreements and all the hardships that they have gone through and especially economically. It’s all led to me and my brothers really studying over here so it’s kind of one of the things that really keeps me going.
HJ: And that’s awesome. Do you think your relationship with your mother is unique or is different from other relationships with -- from Latino families or people who maybe have moved here or even immigrants who had kids here. How do you think your relationship compares with your mother as opposed to other situations that are similar?
VR: Right. Well one of my really good friends moved here I think when she was way younger though. I think she moved here when she was like three or four and she’s not like -- I mean I see her and her mom and they’re close, but I think that as I’ve matured and as I’ve grown up and even as I’ve moved here, I’ve -- I guess realized how important my mom is to my life. And so we’ve become so, so close, and I think I would even say like I mean she’s -- the girl I’m talking about, she’s one of my best friends and I can, I kind of know the relationship because I’ve been around them a lot, her and her mom, and they’re not as close as -- for example, there are certain things that she wouldn’t tell her mom. Whereas in my place, oh my gosh, I tell my mom everything. Like you know, even from ‘Oh my God, mom there’s a really cute guy in my class,’ you know.
VR: So I mean, there’s really no boundaries with my mom and especially now that I’ve matured, and you know there’s always that weird stage in middle school where you’re just like, ‘Okay why are you telling me to do this, I don’t want to do it,’ or you know ‘let me do this type of thing.’ But I think as I’ve grown up and as I’ve really matured and even moving away from home, it’s just really made our relationship stronger where like there are really no walls between us. I mean it’s just so free and just loving and caring. So I mean it’s really only been stronger I think now.
HJ: That’s so great. Yeah, that’s awesome. Do you -- do you feel like the way your relationship -- maybe you don’t know this -- but the way your mother’s relationship is with you, how do you think it’s different from the way her relationship was with her, with her mother--.
VR: Mhmm.
HJ: With your grandmother, since she grew up in Ecuador, I’m assuming?
VR: Yes. Mhmm. Yes.
HJ: Yeah, how do you think that relationship was different from the one that you guys have now?
VR: Right, well my mom has five other brothers and sisters. So she grew up in a pretty big home. There were six brothers and sisters. There were actually seven in the beginning but one of them passed away very young. But their home was very structural, their home was very like, ‘All right, we’re all sitting down at the table, everybody better eat what they’re, you know, what they’re -- what’s on the table.’ Like you only acknowledge dad at certain times, and mom was always in charge of the home, my grandma in this case. My grandma was always in charge of I guess keeping up with my -- I think now that I look back at it, it was a very much breadwinner/homemaker setting. But there was the little difference in that my grandma still had a say in things because she was -- she’s still very -- she was a strong character. So, I know in the whole breadwinner/homemaker thing, I mean the woman is kind of submissive, but I don’t think my grandma really was. But so she grew up in, obviously it was a different era too. For example, I mean there were a lot of rules I think when my mom was growing up. So I mean only being out at certain time, and you know like talking to certain people on the phone at a certain time or like even -- she had older brothers, so even like going out with a guy, like there were just so many rules and stuff. So I mean, it was -- because it was a different time and because I guess my mom -- my grandparents were very, I guess, not really strict but they did have strong values, it was, it was -- I think it was different when my mom was growing up and my grandma. But they’re still very close, I mean, like any other mom and daughter relationship, you have your little, you know like, downtimes every now and after when you fight or something, but they’ve always had a good relationship. I mean even now they still talk and they can talk until forever. So I mean they’ve always gotten along, but I think the only difference I mean, mmm, I guess just cause my grandma’s just getting older, and she’s just talks a lot, but I mean--. I don’t know, I feel like my mom has become very much a part of my backbone, like she is definitely one of the people that I -- that really gives me the strength to go on. So I mean I’m sure she can say that with her grandma, so I think if anything there’s more similarities than differences between my grandma and my mom and then my mom and me.
HJ: Even though that you guys were raised in different places--.
VR: Yeah.
HJ: You still think that carried over.
VR: Right yeah, well I think we – well, I think I had so many more “leeways” like I had a much more open um -- what’s that -- curfews.
HJ: Oh, okay.
VR: Yeah, I would say that I would probably have a lot more open curfews than maybe my mom. So, I think if anything my mom probably grew up with a little more rules. I don’t think there were as many rules that she really placed on me. So it was more of an open area in that way. I think that’s really the only difference.
HJ: Okay and then talking about how -- or shifting the conversation back to you a little bit more -- how has your relationship with your mother influenced the kind of mother you want to be some day, if you do?
VR: Oh my gosh, I hope that I can be half the woman that she is. Jesus Christ. My mom is -- I have -- I really have no words to describe how incredible she is, and I think I only have realized it now that I’m older and now that I am I guess acknowledging the woman that she is, that I get to really notice who she is as a wife, as a mother, as a member, as a friend, as a leader in a church, and I mean there’s just -- she, I mean -- I truly admire so many things about her, so I mean I could -- I would hope that I’m as patient as she is cause she’s so patient with us. I’m really impatient so I would definitely hope that I could somehow, some way, be as patient -- patient as she was with me and with my brothers and with my sister, that umm --. I mean, she is really like the little motor behind my dad so I would hope that I could definitely be that strength and I guess that encouragement to my husband someday. And even she is -- she has her strict moments when she’s not afraid to lay down the law, but she’s not afraid to be really, really silly too. So it’s just -- I mean we were making fun of her half the time too cause she’s really just so cheesy, but I think now that my roommates just went back with us – went back with me for spring break and they stayed at my house. And the first thing that they told me when they walked in, they were like ‘Um, we can definitely see who you relate to and where you come from because of your mom.’ And because of my family too but it’s specifically because of my mom. And so I think I’m very similar to her. But I guess in her character I would definitely hope that I could have the patience that she has had with us. I mean the, the determination to -- I mean not only get our family to come over here to a completely different country and start over from nothing but to have the um the will to move us forward and to get us to where we are today because she was always a part of it, it’s just not my dad. I mean it was both of them. So I mean, there’s just so much that I admire from her, and I would definitely hope to be at least somewhat similar to her, pray to Jesus, because she’s just awesome, she really, really is.
HJ: What do you think, I know you said patience, but what do you think is her strongest quality that was maybe made more evident when you guys moved here? A strength that she didn’t -- or -- that you didn’t notice when you guys were in Ecuador but upon coming here with all the challenges and transitions, what’s something that really, if there’s anything that really sticks out in your mind during that time?
VR: I think just, her encouragement, her determination, her strength to move forward. I think one of the things that I most admire about her is, is her faith in God and that’s really one of the key things that got us to where we are today. I mean my parents every time they have to talk about their -- their -- I guess part of their testimony and where they have come from, it’s always mentioned, and I think we all acknowledge as a family we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wouldn’t be for God. I mean and my mom was really like a pioneer in the family with this because she was always very -- I guess not only hopeful but hopeful in a way that she was always looking forward and always trying to move forward but also have the will and the determination and the hard work to do it. So it’s not -- she’s not, I guess like -- one of the things that became most evident when we came is that she’s not just talk. She actually does it too. So not only did she speak to us about I mean just really I guess trying to accomplish your dreams as individuals but also as a family, but she also did it herself too. Like she went out there and she tried to get her own job, and she tried to move forward. And so I mean I guess like that’s really one of the main things. Not only that she’s patient, which is really one of her strongest things, but that she’s just not -- that she also backs up what she says with her actions, and that’s awesome.
HJ: Do you think she wants to go back someday to Ecuador or is she kind of settled down here and established her roots here now?
VR: I think she will want to -- I think my parents will probably want to go if anything retire in like some kind of like small city where the beach is in Ecuador and anything. But if it’s not there, then here. But I think they might look. I think they’re thinking about maybe doing it in Ecuador.
HJ: After your sister graduates?
VR: Yes, or something -- something like that. But I think it also depends because if we all end up staying over here, I doubt they’re going to want to leave.
HJ: Right.
VR: So I mean because I know that probably none of us are going to go back to live over there, then I think they’re more likely to stay in a small like beach I guess place over here. But, I know she’s -- they’re -- she’s talked about it with my dad so it’s definitely one of the possibilities that they will go back there but not to live. Like I think just if anything like maybe just like for their last, just like maybe their retirement for a little bit or something, but you know.
HJ: Okay. And you said that you and your siblings will probably stay over here, so you’re pretty--.
VR: Oh yeah.
HJ: So you’re pretty determined in that?
VR: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think we -- we’re all very proud of where we come from, and we love our country but -- and we still have family over there, so we still go visit a lot -- but I think we realized that our -- I mean our careers and our education and even opportunities themselves like, we have -- sorry -- we have so many -- we have so much more going on for us here than over there, and especially because we’ve already established like our studies here and our careers here and everything so, even with connections wise and just even our friends here now, and so we’re very much connected to what we call home here, so, I would definitely say.
HJ: Okay. And if you have kids here someday, you think you want to raise them here?
VR: Yeah, I would definitely raise them here, but I would like my parents make sure they know that they have that -- that the Ecuadorian culture should be part of their identity and that they should be proud of that and I mean, and just do it, just like my parents did it, you know, really enforce it in our -- in our home, through language through traditions, even through just decorating, like, and I think especially like going back over there not constantly like every month, but I mean maybe spending like summers over there or something like that, going back to visit family for sure. I would definitely want my kids to be -- to say that they can -- they’re Ecuadorian, you know, that it’s part of who they are.
HJ: And do you think that’s part of the reason your parents might consider staying so they can see their grandchildren if you guys have grandchildren some day?
VR: Oh yeah, for sure. I think you know one of the things that I think that this transition into moving here -- it was a struggle because it was so hard, and we really it was very like ends-meet, like we barely had anything. But our family really appreciated anything that we had. So I mean, we’ve really learned to be really thankful with anything that we have. We’ve always been a big family so even when we had -- even when we had two or three rooms to share for a couple years here and there, we always found the joy in that. So I mean, my parents really find a lot of joy in, in home, you know in our family. So I would definitely say that they’ll probably -- if we’re having our kids over here, they’ll most likely to be around them, for sure. They’ll want to be a part of their lives.
HJ: Yeah, that makes sense. Is your mother working anywhere now?
VR: Um, no right now she’s helping my dad with some kind of side job.
HJ: Okay.
VR: But so she’s helping -- she’s helping him out with that. But she was a preschool teacher back in Ecuador. Before we moved she was the principal of a preschool. So that’s always -- kids have always been her thing. And so over here she had a couple jobs as teacher here and there, and then my dad got a better job, and so then he was able to, I guess tell her to be in charge of like this side job that he has so--.
HJ: Okay.
VR: She’s doing that now.
HJ: Great. Well those were all, all my thoughts. Do you have any final closing thoughts on -- last things about your mother, your family in general, or any stories that you want to share?
VR: Um. I think -- I think I mean this whole move, it’s definitely, especially for my older brothers and I, it’s -- it will always be such a big part of our lives cause we went through so much as a family and even my parents as a -- as a couple went through so much as well with this whole transition. But I think that God has really opened the doors for us, and it’s been incredible to see how my parents have really instilled in us that hard work is really essential, and it will definitely get you places. But I think most importantly, they’ve taught us is how important family is and how it’s -- you know mom always tell me the same thing: family is one of, apart from God, family is one of the only things that is always going to be there and one of the only things that will never change.
HJ: Mhmm.
VR: So I -- I’m so grateful for them. I’m so thankful for their lives, and I can definitely say that I’m so, I guess appreciative that they have been willing to keep our Ecuadorian culture in our lives because I would definitely want to do it with my children someday as well, so--.
HJ: Right, do you feel like you guys, your, your faith in God as a family, do you think that made the experience different from maybe --.
VR: Oh, for sure. Oh yes, so much. I mean, and I wish you talked to my parents about this because it’s funny how every single -- I guess like even looking at it, we really started from the bottom, so looking at like, you know, the jobs that my parents were getting every now and then, every single job there was a story behind it and how God opened the door to it. So there was always God in every single little shift in my parents’ lives or shift in their workplace or shift in our lives even. So God was always there, and God was always there opening the door for us. Not only with my parents but as a family. I remember one time we had to rent this house, and it was the first house that we could rent that would’ve been -- that we could’ve lived comfortably in cause we had been renting apartments for like that time. And I remember like it was pretty much impossible for us to get it because of something with the bank or whatever, and then some like miracle happened with the bank, and I don’t know what, and then like bam, we got the house. Like it’s just like there was always a story because any little step that we had towards the family. So I mean God was always there, and it definitely made a difference in our lives. I mean, it’s hard because a lot of families that come here and that they don’t have their faith in God, it definitely makes a difference. I mean, I know a lot of families that have tried coming here and because it’s so hard and because they don’t have their faith in God they either end up divorcing or they just go back to their country or they just end up doing something else, you know. So I mean for sure it definitely has made an impact, and it’s definitely made a difference in our family for sure.
HJ: Awesome, yeah that’s a really, that’s a really cool testimony. Do you feel like other people who come here I guess without their kids or maybe they bring their kids later on, do you think the fact that your whole family -- did you guys all come together, I assume?
VR: Mhmm.
HJ: Yeah, do you think that made also -- also made a difference in the way you guys handled the -- handled the transition and handled the new life as opposed to splitting up?
VR: Mhmm, yeah because I mean we all lived through it together, and that was one of the things that really made us stronger as a family and it really made our bonds stronger as individuals like with each other. So that made a difference. I think there would’ve probably been a lot of resentment if my parents would’ve left, and we would have stayed with our uncles or grandparents or something. I think that would’ve definitely been a big difference. So it is -- I think it was a benefit that we came together, as a whole and experienced it together.
HJ: Right, yeah, I can see that.
VR: Yeah.
HJ: Okay, well thank you so much for your time and for doing this interview with me.
VR: No problem, it was a pleasure.
HJ: Wonderful.