How do you use writing or art in your life?
I think about their power as tools to represent ourselves and to represent and understand others. And the responsibility that comes with that power. As a reader/consumer of stories and art in its multiple modalities (visual, performance, music and sound) I think of the ways they help me connect to the experiences of others in deep ways. I also find it exciting to teach and learn about writing, design, and composition with digital resources that can enhance our possibilities to create and communicate.
What lessons/teachings from your family, home and/or community do you draw on in your teaching and/or scholarship?
I grew up a few hours south of the Arizona-Sonora border in Mexico. My mom went to medical school, and now that she is retired, she wrote a collection of memoirs she published in Spanish. She tells stories about my grandma raising six children, brining olives, and butchering chickens. My dad is an engineer, and taugh me how to troubleshoot computers and be curious about all things tech.
Now that I am a mom, I see clearly the things my grandmothers said and did, and my mother said and did, that I now say I do. Alongside bittersweet memories. Hay consejos y dichos—pero las ocurrencias es lo que más me acuerdo. Things that are funny and a bit absurd. Like my late uncle, who as a child waited patiently for the hens to lay their eggs to shape them into cube form with his hands. Or my older cousins making fun of five-year-old me, por no saber que era una “cora.” It was a quarter. I’d never seen one. There were many family stories about pet parrots. Most aptly named Perico. One tragically got stuck in the fridge, trying to get a bite of queso de rancho. That was very sad.
As part of my job, I try to remind myself and others of the creativity and joy in our community, especially during these very hard times. And notice how these practices resurface in bilingual memes or Tik Tok gifs. On a serious note about humour y chistes; there is work we need to do to transform these practices within our community, to be more responsive to race and gender diversity, as well as migration and our Indigenous heritage. We need to use language and multiple modalities for equity, and I am hopeful when I learn from our youth’s writing.
What would you tell your younger self?
Talk less, listen more. Forgive yourself and others. Especially your spouse. Driving a stick shift is a valuable life skill.
Advice for new scholars and/or teachers
Don’t try to fix the world by yourself. Ask for help. Find a community of like-minded advocates for children and youth. Burn out is real and you need your community to keep going. My grad school sisterhood has been with me through the dissertation, teaching, motherhood, and years in the tenure track.
Something else you want to share?
No, pues nada. A echarle ganas, ahí encerraditxs en sus casas.