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Sandra Gonzalez is a sophomore at Dartmouth College where she is a double major in Economics with a focus on development and Spanish. She migrated from Chihuahua, Mexico to Austin, Texas when she was eleven years old with her mother, her father, and her sister. I met Sandra earlier this term in my Spanish class, but also at functions for my sorority, Kappa Delta. Sandra joined Kappa Delta in the Fall of 2010 while I was studying in Southern Africa, and I remember receiving emails from all my friends in the house raving about what a great girl she is. I was excited when I was finally able to meet her in January, but I had no idea that she had spent the first eleven years of her life in Mexico. I knew her family was from Mexico, but I assumed that she had either moved when she was very young, or that she was born in the US to parents who had migrated from Mexico because she speaks English perfectly. Sandra is on the shorter side, about 5’1”, with a pale complexion and wavy black hair that goes to about her shoulders. Overall, Sandra’s migration story is different from ones we have read about in class because, with the aid of her father’s company and the family’s more elite status in Mexico, her family did not have any major difficulties entering the US or adjusting.
When I was first assigned this project, I was nervous because nobody immediately came into my head as someone who I should interview. Instead, I emailed everyone in Kappa Delta and explained the purpose of the project and my need for someone to interview. A lot of girls responded saying that I could interview their parents, but then Sandra emailed me and said I could interview her. I was excited to hear her story and I was also happy that she was so excited to share her story. I spoke to her in two parts: the first part was a short meeting to just establish boundaries and go over topics that she was comfortable talking about. The second meeting was an hour-long interview, where I asked a series of probing, yet respectful questions to learn more about her experience as a Latino migrant (see pre-interview framework questions). During the interview, I was looking to better understand what Sandra’s life in Mexico was like, what her life in Texas is like, and how she felt during her transition into US life. What I noticed about Sandra’s story is that, while her family did move for economic reasons like other Mexican families that we have read about, it differs from the ones we have read in class in that her family did not have a social network and their migration was aided a lot by her dad’s company. What struck me most about Sandra’s story is the large role her father plays in the family life, how tightly-knit her immediate family is, and the lament she shows about not keeping in touch with her friends in Mexico. I was also struck by how her life in Mexico, and possibly even her guilt at not staying more in touch with her family and friends in Mexico, have shaped her interests and future aspirations.