How do you use writing or art in your life?
Art has always been in my life as a way of expressing myself. I started painting, writing poetry, and doing teatro as a young girl when I would see my mom creating beautiful arts and crafts out of nothing–it always inspired me. Now, art is even more important to me. I use theater, drawings, and storytelling to work with immigrant children, and I see how healing and vital it is for their lives. On the other hand, writing has not always been something that came easy to me. As I started doing work that I felt obligated or compelled to share, expressing myself through writing and representing the people I work with in the best way possible helped me work on my relationship to writing. Now, I look forward to writing and putting words to a page, even if no one may ever see it. Those words, poems, articles, and (future) books will outlive me, and that is something that blows my mind and motivates me to continue working on my writing and craft.
Someone once told me, “Don’t write to be understood, rather, write to not be misunderstood” and that always sticks with me when I am sharing the stories of folks I work with.
What lessons/teachings from your family, home and/or community do you draw on in your teaching and/or scholarship?
Community, confianza, mentorship, and laughs are things that stick with me. I love when we let our rasquachismo shine and use it to help each other. I know that I would not be where I am without the help of so many individuals. So I approach my research, teaching, and social justice work centering the same question- what are we leaving for the next seven generations? I specifically draw on the lineage of Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed, his teacher Paulo Freire, El Teatro Campesino, and so many other amazing educators, scholars, and practitioners before us and around us.
What would you tell your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to not worry so much. I was an undocumented young student growing up in an anti-immigrant state and I was always afraid for the future. So I would tell myself that I am going to be more than alright.
Advice for new scholars and/or teachers?
My advice for new scholars and teachers is to never forget why you wanted to do this work. Young people and students will not care about your degrees, awards, or grants they will care about how you showed up for them in your class and in your work.
Something else you want to share?
A little, but mighty poem for these overwhelming times…
Tú eres mi otro yo.
You are my other me.
Si te hago daño a ti,
If I do harm to you,
Me hago daño a mi mismo.
I do harm to myself.
Si te amo y respeto,
If I love and respect you,
Me amo y respeto yo.
I love and respect myself.