Identity, culture, and migration

Maria: The Peaceful Place

mossy rock in grassy area behind parking lot

This landscape brings me memories of the peaceful place I used to live in. You desire to be there in that tranquility, no noise from anything, only the roosters, the dogs barking, the chickens cackling, the sheep, the cows, the burros... We would go wash to the river, and we’d look for a rock like that to wash. I imagine that I am there, kneeling down washing clothes in the river, although there is no water here in the picture, but I was imagining it.

Jorge: Once Again, We Are Left Out

close up of Jorge's face

When they announced there was going to be an immigration reform, we were happy. But when we saw what they offered, well… I’m glad that the law will maintain families united, but those of us who have no family, even if we have been here a long time, then we’re left out. If I’m not married, I don’t qualify. My friend has also never married, and doesn’t have kids. And he’s says: “once again, we are left out”.

Ventura: Who Knows How It Will Go?

seagull perched on railing on Seattle waterfront

If I go back to Guatemala, who knows how it will go? Here, I am undocumented, and there too. My brothers sent me my documents, and I went to the agency. I lacked a consular ID, birth certificate, a passport. I showed them my ID from the college on Broadway, but they didn’t give me anything. I went crazy because they wouldn’t give me anything. I was very sad, very depressed, abandoned, I lost my backpack, someone stole all of my documents.

Lourdes: Cooking


I teach cooking. I like cooking and sharing. I make food for sale in different events. Cooking is something that I have in my blood. Selling is what moves me forward in life. When I host a food sale, It feels as if I have won the lottery.

 A mi me gusta cocinar y compartir. Doy clases de cocina, y preparo y vendo comida en diferentes eventos. La cocina es algo que llevo en mi sangre. Vender es algo que me mueve hacia adelante en la vida. Cuando hago una venta, siento como si hubiera ganado la lotería.

Blas: Where I Left My Youth

red and green grapes

I took this picture because it reminded me of a small town in California where I work picking grapes for the wineries. Every time I see grapes I remember that because I picked many grapes for wine. I was 15 or 16 years old. That’s where I left my youth.

Tomé esta foto porque me recuerda de un pueblito en California donde trabajé cosechando uvas para las fábricas de vino. Cada vez que veo uvas recuerdo eso poque coseché muchas uvas para vino. Yo tenía unos 15 o 16 años. Allá es donde dejé mi juventud.

Beatriz: Fattening the Piggy Bank

tv and piggy bank

I like my work doing housecleaning. It’s hard but I like it. I plan on being here two more years, maybe less, then I’m going back home. Here is a piggy bank, I’m trying to fatten that piggy bank for my trip home.

Me gusta mi trabajo limpiando casas. Es duro, pero me gusta. Yo planeo estar aquí unos dos años más, tal vez menos, y después me voy de vuelta a casa. Aquí tengo una alcancía, estoy
engordando esa alcancía para mi viaje a casa.

Maria: The Airplane

Airplane flying above

I was at the bus stop, and the airplane passed by. I remembered that after 20 years of not going to Mexico, in June of last year I went to Mexico. So when I see airplanes I feel like I’m in there going once again, and I start to cry. Every time I see one, I wish I was arriving once again in Mexico. You know what it feels like go to visit family. I now have my residency, thank God, so I am able to go back and see them.

María: My Daughters

Maria and daughters siting in chairs

My daughters were born and raised here. It’s a different culture. They don’t know their other brothers and sisters who live in Mexico. They say “Yes, yes mom, they are your children and they are over there in Mexico.” I say “daughter, call your sister,” and they say, “nah, why… I really don’t know her.” Can you believe that? Because some of them don’t know them in person, and well, it’s difficult for me to convince them.

Maria: I Love Myself

Old photo of Maria

Well that is me, but that was many years ago… So many that the photo is even blurred. I appreciate my time, my life, the way that I have lived it. Even though I am a single mother, I have lived my life with my children, which are the most important thing for me, and for most moms, I think. Our children are most important. I was pregnant in that picture with one of my children. I really like that picture. I love myself- if I don’t love myself, who will love me?