Valeria Martinez lives in Queens, New York. She is a 49-year- old White Hispanic Women. Barely knowing English, she immigrated from Argentina to the United States with her family when she was seventeen years old. She has three brothers and two half sisters. Valeria started nannying in New York City in her early twenties.
Valeria had a decent childhood but was not happy growing up in Argentina. She would walk to school by herself and at oftentimes she did not feel safe, she didn’t realize until she was older that she should not have been walking alone on the streets by herself. She felt alone most of the time, Her father worked full time and her mother worked as a nurse so she had to take care of her brothers. She would cook and clean like a traditional mother’s or a housekeeper. Having the responsibility of taking care of her family starting in fifth grade she explained was very tough and hard on her.
How is it like being a woman in your country? Were you treated a lot differently than you are here?
VIDEO RECORDING CLIP : 3:04
“Well, unfortunately, yes. I was, I was not bullied as being a woman. And we’re talking about my childhood because I remember I came here and when I was 17. So I have a lot to say, because now that I have a comportation is, you know, I still I felt like those years I was living in my country. I was a child, not really a woman. I defined myself as a woman here in this country. So what do I say? I, I don’t feel like there was a woman. I was like a child at that moment. You know, and I was socially rejected a lot. Because I was, I was always in the way. And I felt a lot of rejection from people, you know? Um, friends, classmates, and stuff like that. And, yeah.”
While living in Argentina people did not treat Valeria like a woman until she came to the United States. It is known that women are not treated correctly in Argentina. They are screamed at, and abused. She didn’t feel as if she was respected and treated properly which was hard for her. In Bell Hooks book Feminism is for everyone, she stated “For years many feminist women held to the misguided assumption that gender was the sole factor of determining their status” (Hooks 116), When Valeria was in Argentina she felt as she was not look at as a women, this relates to the interview because it talks about how many do not find themselves as fully a women because of the way society views them.
In Gloria Anzaldúas book, Borderlands, it talks about how the clashing of different races can help us in the future. Anzaldúas states “A massive uprooting of dualistic thinking in the individual and collective consciousness is the beginning of a long struggle, but one that could, in our best hopes, bring us to the end of rape, of violence, of war” (Anzaldúas 102), this relates to Valerias interview because in ways that she believes the world is starting to come together with all the different cultures. Valeria explains how different it is in the United States, how you can have any type of cultural experience in the city and everyone here belongs, and you are not looked at differently. This is when she knew she fell in love with the United State and New York.
The immigration process was fairly easy for Valeria, there was no drama. She got a tourist visa and her father helped her fill out the papers, so she is now very familiar with the process. She stated that it took 8 months to receive her citizenship. Valeria did not have a hard transition while moving to the United States, she explained that she came at an age where many define themselves so fitting in wasn’t too difficult. The main thing that was hard for her to get used to was the food.
After living in the United States, Valeria doesn’t want to move back to Argentina. She only plans to go back for vacation to take her child and for her grandmother’s 100th birthday in two years.
What does this country means to you and what was the biggest lesson learned from moving here?
VIDEO RECORDING CLIP : 8:27
“This is a country you can do whatever, you know, you can do whatever you want, you can fulfill your dreams, if you really want them. you know if you really, really want them you can fulfill your dreams. Whatever it is, can be small, can be big, you know, these are the places that’s what I love. You know, that’s what I like about this country. You know, um, You know, there’s a lot going on in the last five years that have changed my point of views a little bit, but it has nothing to do with the country. I mean, it is the country but Unfortunately, you know, things have shifted a little bit lately, you know, and that may be I try to give you an answer before this past four years, you know, because there’s a lot going on and have changed everybody. I think I feel that way by now. to you still can fulfill your dreams. Yeah.”
Moving to the United States Valerias life immensely. She would not have been provided with the opportunities she has today without being here. Transitioning to a new country is one of the hardest things you can do and I look up to her greatly when it comes to her experience and doing it with confidence while being here. In Paul Kivels “Ruling class and the buffer zone” he stated “In addition to (barely) surviving, people must have some hope that their (or their children’s) situation will get better, or they will have nothing to lose in challenging the power structure. Another role of people in the buffer zone is to keep hope alive by distributing opportunities for a few people to gain access to jobs, housing, health care, or educational opportunities so that it seems like there is opportunity for all” (Kivel). This passage relates to how having hopes and dreams is key when coming from the lower class or if you are not from the United States, Valeria made this statement every clear in her interview as well. Valeria views the world as a place of endless opportunities and dreams that if you put your mind to it you can achieve and fulfill. She looks at the positives in life and all the great outcomes you can have from them. Her passion and determination are inspiring. During the interview I learned many new things about the world and the positive outlooks you can have. Valeria taught me that you can do and achieve whatever you believe and don’t let anyone get in your way.
Hooks, B. (2016). Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics. Brantford, Ont.: W. Ross MacDonald School Resource Services Library
Anzaldúa, Gloria. (1999). Borderlands: La Frontera. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication-Data
Kivel, Paul. (2004). The Ruling Class and the Buffer Zone. www.paul.kivel.com