ABOUT ME

 

My history, in a way, is one of reverse migration since after having been born in the United States, my family moved to México so my brother and I could, in my parent's view, experience life where culture, family, and traditions were a daily part of our lives. I do admit having the good fortune of growing up in the city of Guadalajara, México, a vibrant city that taught me many life lessons and instilled in me a particular way of seeing the world that continues to influence my thinking as an adult.

 

From a young age, I navigated the duality of my American and Mexican identity while living in Guadalajara. Although I was an ordinary-looking "Mexican kid", I was marked as "different" from my peers, mainly because I could speak English. I mean, I looked Mexican, acted Mexican (if there is really a way of "acting Mexican"), ate the same food as other Mexican children, dressed in a similar way, yet I was always viewed as an outsider, a "pocha." I was seen (when convenient) as false Mexican because of my close connection to American culture.

 

I remember I was the first among my childhood friends to have family migrate and live in the United States. My mother also grew up in the United States and could speak English. She saw great utility in having her children learn the language, and for that reason, while we lived in our Mexican home, with our Mexican neighbors, English was widely spoken. During the summer months, I also had the opportunity to travel to California to visit some of my family members who resided there. Those experiences of spending a few months a year in California and consuming U.S. media initiated in me an unconscious process of acculturation to American culture that I only later recognized as highly influential to my evolving and current perspectives about life.

 

As a young adult, I took a leap of faith and made the decision to return to the United States, and to California, specifically. Moving away from Guadalajara, and of my entire life as I knew it, has been one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. It has, however, also been a journey filled with many fulfilling experiences and rewards along the way. Of course, things are not always picture perfect, and having to navigate my identity as a "Latina woman" in the environment of U.S. culture has been one of the biggest aspects, and at times a challenge, of living in a large multicultural society.

 

I had always envisioned furthering my education and I knew that returning to California could afford me such opportunity. Once I moved back to California (I did spend the first year of my life in the U.S.), I earned my B.A. at San Francisco State University, and was involved in the independent film scene in San Francisco. Shortly after, I proceeded to engage in a circuituous path that took me around the country working as a labor organizer. As an organizer, working with diverse ethnic groups, and traveling to new places, was a tremendous growing experience that has greatly impacted my views about our culture. Though the work presented its challenges, it gave me the opportunity to affect people's life in positive ways. Also, the experience of working with, talking to people, and hearing stories of hardship and resiliency, is one of the reasons why I have become a documentary filmmaker.

 

After working as an organizer, I grounded myself in my own community in California's Bay Area. I returned to school to get my M.A. in Broadcast Electronic and Communication Arts at San Francisco, while at the same time working as an Latino advisory committee to the Oakland Museum of California. During this time, I was immersed in highly creative environments through my film and community work, while engaging in stimulating critical thinking through graduate seminars where I learned many lessons, raised many questions, and began to discover the academic threads that allowed me position my thinking in the direction toward graduate school.  In the course of my master's work, it became clear to me that I wanted to pursue a Ph.D.

 

Over the last few years at the University of Oregon, I have been fortunate to have strong and insightful mentors who listened and provided me with invaluable guidance. I have also made lifelong friends who have forever changed my life. 

 

I look forward to the work ahead and to the posibilities to continue growing.

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© 2013 by SONIA DE LA CRUZ.