Tim Riskin and Briana Quinn
June 17, 2019
Mexico City, Mexico
Being teased for not knowing Spanish
1 of 3
*To hear more about Jeimmy listen to the playlist above
Tim: So, how old were you when you came to United States?
Jeimmy: I was one year old when my father left, and two years old when my father decided to pay so that my mom and I could crossover. So I was two years old.
Tim: Do you remember anything about Mexico before you left?
Jeimmy: Nothing. I don't remember anything.
Tim: Where did you go to in the US?
Jeimmy: Well, we lived with his sister. She was in Iowa. After that, we went to Chicago where my mom's brother was at. Then we went to Buffalo, New York. A couple of years later, we went to Illinois, and Racine, Wisconsin.
Tim: So, you moved around a lot?
Jeimmy: We were migrating very often. Yes.
Tim: Do you know why that was?
Jeimmy: My parents were afraid. They would stay at a specific job. Usually, at first, they started off working in like el campo, which is like land fields. So it was like picking up apples and peaches, cherries. But Immigration would be there often. So you would just see like people scream, "la migra." And everybody would like run.
Jeimmy: So, they started looking for other things that weren't as dangerous as that. So we moved to a different state where mostly the jobs there were like fabricas.[factories] They stayed there, but then you would notice that la migra también llegaba a las fábricas, [immigration authorities also went to factories] So, they started migrating very often. Basically, just keeping a down low on that and not trying to like be caught by La Migra.
Tim: You started school in the US?
Tim: Do you remember where you started?
Jeimmy: Honestly, I don't remember. I remember that every three, four months, five months, I was always the new girl. I would be changed from school super often. So I've been to a whole bunch of schools. The only school I remember that I went three years straight was Shiloh Park Elementary School. I went there three years straight, which was from third to sixth grade. But then when I was going to go middle school, we ended up changing to another city.
Tim: And when you started school, if you remember, did you know English?
Jeimmy: No. It was really hard for me. I would get mad because I didn't want to go to school. I didn't understand what the teacher said to me. I didn't like going to school because I didn't understand anything. Then they started giving me like, "Okay, you are going to be half your time here and half your time in a Spanish class." So that kind of helped me understand. And then when I was like in second grade, then they're like, "Okay, you're ready to be in a full English class." Yeah.
Tim: Did you feel like people treated you differently when you didn't really know any English, or?
Jeimmy: No, actually that school in specific, I felt like there was a lot of help and they were – nos estaban apoyando mucho. [they helped us a lot.]
Tim: Were there any specific people that you remember that really reached out and helped you?
Jeimmy: Yes, but I don't even remember their names.
Tim: Do you remember what they did?
Jeimmy: I guess there were social teachers, because this lady, she was bilingual so she would teach me in English and Spanish. So, she would teach me in English and if I didn't understand, she would just tell me in Spanish and then showed me what it was or how to say it in English.
Tim: And were you able to make friends moving around so frequently?
Jeimmy: Well, there were friends, but it was like, "Oh okay. I have to go now. Bye." So I never actually grew up with a best friend.
Tim: How did that make you feel that you are missing out on such an important part of childhood, having one or a couple of good friends?
Jeimmy: Well, you get used to it. Because here in Mexico, I've been here for like nine years, and I still don't have like one best friend. So it's like, "Okay, friends come and go." I mean, they're always going to be there, but you're always going to meet new people.
Tim: Did you finish school in the United States?
Jeimmy: I got to seventh grade, then when I was 14, my parents decided to come back to Mexico. So, here, I had to go back to middle school for like four months and then to high school again.
Tim: You guys came back voluntarily?
Tim: And going to school in Mexico when you started?
Jeimmy: It was horrible.
Tim: Were people mean to you because you had spent time in the US?
Jeimmy: Yes, but I mean, okay. The first thing I noticed in Mexican school is that they don't even have toilet paper in the bathrooms. So it's like, "Okay. Did somebody forget to put toilet paper?" "No, you have to bring your own." I'm like, "Okay, that's so weird." And then it's like, everybody would think, I guess it's like they make themselves feel less because they think that you think that you’re better than them just because you know English and you were in the States and so on.
Jeimmy: So they would be like, "ay la gringa se cree mucho porque viene de los Estados Unidos y habla inglés.” [the gringa is full of herself because she’s come from the United States and speaks English] It's like, "No bro, I'm nothing like that." So yeah, that was like ignorant children. But then you'll see that the teachers are just as ignorant because they're like, “Ay Jeimmy, lee la página tal" [Ay Jeimmy, read this page] I can't read. I don't know. I can barely speak Spanish. You want me to read it?
Jeimmy: So I would be like, "el carro” [the car] and everybody would start laughing because I can't roll my R's. It's like, a ver di carro, di carro, di ferrocarril," [let’s see, say car, say car, say train] (In American accent) and I can't roll my R's. So, they'll make fun of my accent. And yeah, the teacher was horrible, and the students were also. In the four months that I was just in middle school, I saw how a teacher grabbed his seatbelt and whooped the student [Chuckles]. So, I was like, "Oh my God, this would not happen in the States." So it's really, really different.
Tim: So, you mentioned right there that there's like the teachers act very differently.
Tim: Can you explain that a little bit more? Do they teach differently too, or?
Jeimmy: I would say they don't even teach you it. They just go to waste their time on you and get paid off of it. Because in the three months that I was there, I honestly don't remember learning anything. Like nothing. It was just like going and wasting my time because I was going for like two weeks and then this teacher, she -- se fracturó la mano and so le dieron incapacidad. [she broke her arm and was put on disability]
Jeimmy: And they were trying to look for a substitute teacher. So while they were looking for a substitute teacher, we were like three weeks without a teacher. So you could imagine kids just coming in and out of the classroom, throwing stuff. Everybody was doing whatever they wanted. And then they found a substitute teacher, but the kids were so horrible that the substitute teacher left crying and didn't come back.
Jeimmy: So this other teacher, le decian el padrino, [they called him the godfather] because literally, era el padrino [he was the godfather] like everybody there. So, he comes in with like typical macho Mexicano with his mustache beard, bien cabron. [a right bastard] And he comes in there and everybody's like, “oh el padrino viene el padrino.” [oh, the godfather, the godfather’s coming] So like Everybody's like quiet. And one of them, he was just like, "I don't care, que esto y el otro" [this and that] He was fucking ... I'm sorry. [Laughs].
Jeimmy: He was from one table to another. He was literally like on top of the tables jumping from one table to another. So el padrino comes in and he's like, "Get down from there." And he's like, "No, que esto y el otro." He's like, "Get down from there." "No, I'm not going to get down. What are you going to do about it?"
Jeimmy: He takes his belt off and he's like, “One, two, three.” And you just see him just sit down. Like nothing happened. And then he starts putting order. Like, "I'm tired of you guys always doing whatever you guys want, que esto y el otro." And everybody's like, "Oh my God. Did he just whoop him?” “Yeah, he did."
Jeimmy: So it stayed quiet for a while, but then he left. Then everybody started making fun of the kid that got whooped by a teacher. And yeah, that was basically like the most impact made during my middle school experience here in Mexico.
Tim: And then you went to high school after?
Jeimmy: I went to high school. Yeah.
Tim: Was that similar to what middle school was?
Jeimmy: No, nothing. Kids or teenagers were more open minded. Instead of making fun of me because I knew English, they would be like, "Oh, you know English. Okay, let's hang out. I can teach you Spanish, you can teach me English. I can teach you math and you can teach me English." So they were more like, "Okay, let's help out each other."
Jeimmy: And the teachers, they were all so different. The English teacher was like, "Oh, okay, you know English. Perfect. Just do one examen [exam] and whatever you get on that examen, va ser tu calificación para todo el semestre." [exam will be your grade for the semester]And I'm like, "Okay, 10, there you go." A 10 for the whole semester. I didn't have to go to the classes because the teacher already knew that I knew English.
Jeimmy: So she was like, "If you want to be here, to help the other students, it's fine with me." So yeah, I would just go whenever I wanted to and help out the other students, and basically that's it. So my experience in high school was a lot better. A lot better than middle school.
Tim: Besides school when you came back, was it hard to like reintegrate yourself in Mexican culture after living in the US first for long?
Jeimmy: Yes. I think it took me like about two years to integrate into myself. Because specifically in high school, I started... there's Spanish and there's Chilango. So, Chilango is way different than Spanish. They're like, "y tienes carnales?” " And I'm like, "carnales, what's that?" "si tienes hermanos?” And I'm like, "Oh yeah, I have two brothers." Oh, okay. And they would use those words, no?
Jeimmy: So, I started like learning them. “Oh yeah. carnal significa [carnal means] brother.” What other words did they use? They would use expressions like, “ay ese hombre es un Don Juan,” [that man is a Don Juan] and I'm like, "Who's Don Juan?" And they're like, "Oh no. It just means that he's a player," and words like that. So I was like, "Oh, okay. This is like pretty weird, but I like it. It's cool."
Jeimmy: So when I was in high school, this kid, he was like the most—I don't know, he was very hyperactive, but he was cool. He's like, "Hey Jeimmy," because everybody was like in break, "Hey Jeimmy." I'm like, “que?” He's like, "ya alcanzas a tocar el timbre," [did you manage to ring the doorbell] and I'm like, "What do you mean?" He's like, "Yeah, Jeimmy, ya alcanzas a tocar el timbre?" and everybody's laughing, and I'm like, “I don't know what you're talking about."
Jeimmy: "Si Jeimmy si ya tocas el timbre, el timbre de tu casa?." [have you rung the doorbell of your house] And I'm like, "mi casa no tiene timbre.” [my house doesn’t have a doorbell] So everybody just starts laughing at me, and I'm like, "Oh my God, what did I say?" So later on, I tell my friend, I'm like, "What did he mean?" And she's laughing at me and she can't stop laughing at me. And then she's like, "Okay, he basically asked you if you've already had sex. But your response was, my house doesn't have a doorbell. So, it's pretty funny." And I was like, “Oh, okay.”
Jeimmy: So yeah, you start learning all these expressions, all these some double centered words. And I mean it took me a while to learn it.
Tim: And coming back, the food is different in Mexico than it is in the US?
Jeimmy: Yes. You know what I hate about Mexican stores? They never fridge milk. It's like you'd go and ask for a leche, y te dan una leche al tiempo [milk, and they give you milk at room temperature] It's like, “Bro, why don't you put it in the fridge. It tastes so good when it's cold.” [Tim laughs]. Sugar tastes different. Even water tastes different. Everything's so different.
Tim: Are there any like specific American foods that you miss?
Jeimmy: That I miss? Not really. A couple years back, I used to miss like cranberry sauce, I used to miss gravy, I used to miss candies, like salt water taffy, like a whole bunch of candies that here in Mexico don't exist. But then the years pass by and you stop, I don't know, ya no se te antoja, [you don’t crave it] You're like, "Okay, it's fine."
Tim: Okay. So besides the food, is there anything that you miss a lot about the United States?
Jeimmy: I miss the cleanness. It's true that it's greener on the other side. Everybody can notice that. I miss how you could go to the park and everything was like, the grass was all green. You would see like—well at least where I used to live, there was a small pond where you can go throw bread at ducks. I miss the security that you feel when you call 911 and in five minutes, the cops are there.
Jeimmy: I think that's something I really miss a lot, because here, you could say, "Oh my God, if something happens to me and they call the cops, they are going to be here like an hour later, and they're not even going to be here prepared. They're just going to like, nada mas es presencia [they’re just present] because they're not even prepared for it." So I guess that's something that I missed too.
Tim: So, did you trust the police in the United States?
Jeimmy: Yeah. I always grew up believing that police were good men. Police are different from ICE. So, La Migra was different from a regular cop. So I would always trust cops.
Tim: And here you don't trust?
Jeimmy: No, no. No, aqui no. [no, no, here no.] At least I haven't seen a cop do a good deed. You usually see them like trying to stop people just to check them and see if they have anything on them.
Tim: Is there anything that you don't miss about the United States?
Jeimmy: Something I don't miss about the States?
Tim: Is there something that you hated about it when you were there?
Jeimmy: Well, no, not really. I enjoyed the time I was there, and they would tell me, "Do you want to go back?" I would probably say no, but I mean it was nice.
Tim: Why wouldn't you want to go?
Jeimmy: Because I feel free here. I have my family here. I might not see a grass and ponds and so what, but I see my city and el Monumento de la Revolución , el Angel. I've been to other states like Cancun. Cancun is beautiful. I would rather be in Cancun than in the States. And you also make dollars in Cancun. So I mean it's nice.
Tim: So, do you see yourself as more American or more Mexican?
Jeimmy: I would say both. [Chuckles]. That was a tough one. Yeah. Both. Because I mean, I have Mexican blood. You can see me physically and I look Mexican. But my taste in music isn't that Mexican. My ideal isn't as the same as a Mexican mind. And well, yeah, I mean you can say I'm like an Oreo. [Laughs].
Tim: What music do you like?
Jeimmy: I like electronic music. For example, I like Adela, I like Amy Winehouse. I love a lot of, well like Charlie Puth, I don't know. I like that type of music. But I also like not necessarily Mexican, but Latina. For example, I like Calle Trece. Calle Trece I think is like Puerto Rican or something like that. I love Calle Trece. What I don't like that's Mexican, and people criticize me for that, is I don't like Banda. I don't like Nortenas, I don't like soccer, for example. [Interview laughs].
Jeimmy: Right now, this month has been horrible for me. I can't listen. I can't go on Facebook without seeing memes about soccer. Yeah. So it's basically that.
Tim: Do you like American sports?
Jeimmy: I like football. Yes, I like football. I love it. Because I also have that. I prefer American men than Mexican men. So if you look at like ... I mean guys make fun of girls because of this. Girls only see soccer because they see the guy. But it's true. I mean honestly, it is true. I like seeing football because I mean it's a savage game where you see men pushing each other and throwing them against each other, and it's pretty cool.
Jeimmy: But you also see really handsome men. And for me, it's hard to find a handsome man in Mexico. Don't you agree? [Everyone laughs].
Tim: What American football players do you like?
Jeimmy: Honestly, I don't know them. I don't. No, let me see if I remember. When I was in fifth grade, that was when I was like mostly into football because my teacher, she used to love football. So she's the one that involved me in all that. I don't remember the player. There was a player that she loved, and she was like, "Oh my God, he's so cute." And I started, I'm like, "Yeah, he is cute."
Jeimmy: But honestly, I don't even remember their names. I just know they're cute. And that's it.
Tim: If you had children, would you raise them in an American way or the Mexican way, or both?
Jeimmy: Both. Because it would be like you would pick the best out of both sides. For example, in America, if you have garbage, pick it up and take it with you until you find the garbage can.” And the Mexican version would be like—how can I say it? I don't know. It's just that my parents raised me like… I don't know.
Jeimmy: American people are more like anti-violence, I guess. Like if your kid comes to you and they tell you that they're being bullied, you would go directly to the principal and you would speak with the principal, right? So it's like, "Okay, my kid's being bullied in your school, what are you going to do about it?" And the director would try to find a solution or what so on. And here in Mexico, if you go and tell, "les van haciendo burla a tu hijo” [they are teasing/picking on your son] he would be like, "Okay, well, I can't do anything about it. I can’t be just behind your kid all day." So what happened here in Mexico would be like, “mira mi amor si te pega, [listen my love if they hit you] you better whoop their butt. Because if not, coming home, I'm going to whoop your butt.” So that would be like the Mexican part. So yeah, I guess I would get like on both sides.
Tim: Okay. So now going away from that, because I messed up. [Both laugh]. Are you happy that you spent time in the United States, or do you wish—
Jeimmy: No, I'm glad. My life was always like up and down and from left to right because I never had a stable home, never had a stable school, and never with stable people. But at the end of the day, that affected me in a way that right now, as an adult, I can't stay more than two years in one place. I'm like, "Okay, I need to go. I need to either get a new job or go live somewhere else.”
Jeimmy: That's why I've been to Cancun and Veracruz and all these places. And I'm glad, I mean that. My parents had that dream and followed it. And they made me part of it.
Tim: And so, were you happy that they brought you back to Mexico?
Jeimmy: At the beginning? I was super happy because I was like, "Oh yes, I will see my abuelita." [grandmother] Because in the States, I would always adopt grandmas. For example, we used to live in this black neighborhood. So, there was this black lady who I always would call her “Abuelita.” And she was like, "mi abuelita negra." It was pretty cool. But after so many years of not actually seeing your grandma, it's like the best.
Tim: Earlier you mentioned like right when you got back, people were mean to you about how you spoke and things like that. How did it make you feel at the time that people from your home country, that this was where you were born, weren't treating you nicely?
Jeimmy: Well, I always thought that knowing English wasn't something bad. I always considered it like, "Okay, I'm not wrong. You guys are the ones that are wrong. And I want to see you guys in 10 years and see what you got to tell me about that." And yeah, I mean, nine years later, eight years later, I'm here working at a bilingual call center.
Jeimmy: I think my life isn't that bad. And I see my middle school people that were making fun of me, they're like pregnant, mamas luchonas
Tim: But you don't have kids?
Jeimmy: Right. [Both laugh]. You would see mamas luchonas, you would see people ... It's not ningún trabajo es malo [no job is bad]as long as it's a decent job. But I mean like, why would you make fun of my English? You're going to end up like that. Right? Time speaks for itself.
Briana: You mentioned a while ago, when you were talking about differences between US and Mexico, that you think your ideals are American and you think like an American. Can you speak a little more about that?
Jeimmy: For example, here in Mexico, it's always like, primero yo, después yo y al ultimo yo. [first me, next me, and last me] So everybody's like, yo te chingo a ti antes de que tu me chingas a mi. [ I’ll fuck you before you can fuck me] You can speak to any Mexican and that's basically their mentality. And I'm not like that. I'm like, "I'll help you, hoy por mi, manana por ti.” [today from me, tomorrow from you] So I'll help you today and I expect, or I hope, that you help me tomorrow. So, that's one thing.
Jeimmy: Something else, I don't know why. This isn’t general, but the majority of women in Mexico or girls these days, they're 14, 15 years old, and they're already getting pregnant and having kids when they barely finished middle school. So it's like everybody looks at me, or at least in my family, and it's like, "Oh, Jeimmy, why haven't you gotten married yet?" Like, "I'm 22 years old. I still live with my parents. Why would I get married?" [Laughs].
Jeimmy: I have like cousins, siblings, that they're 14, 15 years old and they already had kids. They have a horrible life because they can barely get a job, they can barely feed their kids. I don't know for what reason. For them, it was urgent to just get pregnant. So, that's not general, but at least that's what I've noticed here in Mexico: that the majority of teenage girls just want to get pregnant as soon as possible.
Briana: So do you think your views on getting pregnant and starting a family were formed by your experiences in the United States?
Jeimmy: Yeah. Because in the States, you see women that are 30 years, and they're getting married at 30 years.. So, you're like, "Oh, she enjoyed her teenage years, she enjoyed her life, she already did, and so on, whatever she wanted to. And now that she's ready, she's going to get married, she's going to have kids, and everything's going to be perfect."
Jeimmy: But here in Mexico, they get pregnant at 16, they leave their kids with their grandma, and go party and do whatever they wanted to do during their age. And then it's like the little changes goes on. Then they're like 30 years old, their kids are 15 years old, and they're already like grandmas. So it's like a little cycle that just goes on and on.
Jeimmy: And I have a neighbor that's 32 and she's already a grandma with four nietos, four grandkids. So, it's like, “Wow.”
Briana: Do you think that in the US there is more of an allowance for having your life before you start having kids? Do you think there's more opportunities for that and that's why women don't get pregnant this early?
Jeimmy: I think it's because when you're a teenager over there, it's like your parents, they worry on giving you material stuff. In the States, the government helps you with food vouchers, there's Goodwill, there's Salvation Army where you can go to the store and buy Levi jeans for a dollar or two. So it's like the government actually helps you. Like, "If you're poor, it's fine. We'll help you feed yourself and we'll help you with clothes. All you have to do is like, I don't know, just put in $20 for a cell phone."
Jeimmy: And here, it's not like that. It's like the government doesn't help you in anything. So people don't care about a cell phone. They don't care about a computer. They just want to feed their kids. So these kids just grow up thinking that they're always limited. They're always limited to not being able to have this because their parents can't afford it.
Jeimmy: So, they start getting a boyfriend, their boyfriend buys them clothes, buys them this, buys them that. They believe that moving in with their boyfriends at 15 years old is going to remove them from that poorness, or their boyfriend is going to give them better opportunities than their parents.
Jeimmy: But then they start actually taking a taste of life. Like, "Oh no sweetie, it's not just this. We got to pay rent, we got to pay food, we got to pay the baby's diapers." So at the end, they're worse than if they would've just stayed with their parents. And I guess a lot of teens take that decision and make that error because they don't really know what life is.
Tim: So, I have another question about school, if it's okay to go back to that for a second. So when you came back to Mexico, did you know anything about Mexican history?
Jeimmy: Nothing hasta la fecha, [still today] I don't know el himno nacional, [the national anthem]I don't know who Pancho Villa is, I don't know who Benito Juarez is, I don't know who Sor Juana is. The only time I heard about Sor Juana is when my dad was listening to a Nortena song from Los Tigres del Norte which says something about narcotraficantes [drug traffickers] and stuff and a mi me dicen Sor Juana a mi me dicen sorpresa. [they call me Sor Juana, they call me surprise] And they take out their cuernos de chivo [guns] and start shooting everybody. So that's the only thing I ever heard about Sor Juana.
And I come here in Mexico, and they're like, "Oh vas a ir a la telesecundaria." [oh you are going to tele - high school] And I'm like, "Okay, first of all, what's a telesecundaria?" "No, es que allí te enseñan con pura tele." So, aqui te ensenan con pura tele, [no, it’s that they teach you only by TV there] there's no teachers?" " And I'm like, "Okay. So there’s no teachers? “Si pero, pues las maestras prenden la tele y te enseñan con la tele.”. [yes, but the teachers turn on the TV and teach you by TV] And I’m like, so if we learn off of the TV, then how are we like “de que me sirve tener la maestra allí.” [what’s the point of having a teacher there?] So, it's like super complicated. It was the worst thing ever.
Tim: So, you mentioned you didn't know the national anthem of Mexico or the national song. Do you know the pledge of allegiance of the US, the national anthem of the US? [Laughs].
Jeimmy: Yeah. I know the pledge of allegiance.
Briana: Did you say it in school?
Jeimmy: Yes. For eight years? No, for 12 years? Well I was 12 years in the States. So I guess like from kindergarten to seventh grade, every day.
Tim: Do you still remember it?
Jeimmy: Yes, but I don't want to sing it. [Laughs].
Tim: [Laughs]. So, let me see. Do you have anything else that you want to add? I'm still thinking if I have more questions, but I want to give you an opportunity.
Jeimmy: Something to add? Well no, not really. [Laughs]. It's just so many stories I could tell you, but right now I can't think of any.
Tim: You still live with your parents?
Tim: What is that like? I know you mentioned that just about everyone else has moved out?
Jeimmy: Well, it's pretty funny. It's weird I guess because everybody's independent. But I love living with my parents. I help them pay, because it's their own house—they don't rent, it's their house. So, it's just like paying maintenance, paying water, paying the internet. And I get my own room. I'm comfortable, but I do have occasions where I just want to move out.
Jeimmy: Because, if I ever have a boyfriend—I'm a loner so I've been single for like two years. [Chuckles]. But if I ever have a boyfriend, it’s going to be like how am I going to go in my house with my parents and my boyfriend there? And so, I do have occasions where I do want to be independent and rent my own place.
Tim: Did your parents learn English in the States?
Jeimmy: My dad, he understands it and he speaks it. Pero su inglés es un inglés paisa, like real paisa, [his English is a real paisa English] like what time is it?, Like, open the dooro or I'll break the window.” (In Spanish accents) And my mom, she can understand it like 70% and speak it like 30%. But if I speak to my dad, he'll understand and he'll respond. Very mocho, but he'll respond.
Tim: Did they become American too?
Jeimmy: Yes. My dad did. My dad here in Mexico, he's very like esos son mis derechos [these are my rights] very contra-. I don't know. He's always—
Briana: You think it is an American mindset?
Jeimmy: Yes. Yes. Because in the States, you're always—I mean, it's not bad [Laughs]—but you're always complaining about everything. Like, you give me bad customer service? I'm complaining about it. You gave me this one cent higher? I'm complaining about it. And it's perfectly fine because that way you know your human rights. And nobody can come in to ruin it.
Jeimmy: My dad got that mentality, like esta va contra mis derechos, [this is against my rights] like, "You can't do this." Or when we had a huge trouble subscribing my brothers to school because they're American. They needed like infinity of paperwork. And my dad's like, "Okay. So me estas diciendo que les estas negando los estudios a mi hijo por esto, esto y lo otro,” [you are denying my son his studies for this, that and the other] And they're like, "No, we're not denying him." -"No entonces?."[no, so?]
Jeimmy: Like, "Okay they would be like esto y lo otro" He's like, "No, no. Okay. Tell me once again, are you denying my ..." So, he would like se pone en ese plan, [he’d get like that] and teachers would be like, "Okay. Esta bien meta a tus hijos.” [it’s fine, enroll your sons]
Tim: So, do you think it's really beneficial that he has this mentality?
Jeimmy: Yes. Yes, it is.
Briana: So your brothers were born in the US?
Jeimmy: Yes. I have two brothers that were born in the US.
Briana: What is it like for them having citizenship here as well as US?
Jeimmy: For them, it was really hard. I have two brothers. Currently, one is 19 and the other one is 15. So, nos llevamos todos por [we hadn’t been together] four years. So my brother, when he came back, it was like… he's tall and he's like handsome. So Mexican girls weren't used to tall, handsome guys. Because everybody here's like chaparritos, morenitos. [small, dark]
Jeimmy: They might be cute, but they're chaparritos and morenitos. So, everybody was like, "Alexis, Alexis"—because his name is Eduardo Alexis. But he's like, "I'm going to tell them my name is Alexis." [Laughs]. So, it was like, "Oh, Alexis" [High pitched voice]. And his friends, or the other guys around him, would start getting jealous and they would be like, " que? te sientes muy chingon, que este y el otro.” [you feel really cool, this and that]
Jeimmy: This is where the Mexican mentality comes in, where my dad always taught them, "If you're going to fight with somebody, you better whoop their butt or else, I'm going to whoop yours." So my brother was always like, "You're never going to make me feel less, and we'll fight before you make me feel less."
Jeimmy: So, my brother for like two months was fighting at least three times a week with somebody because they were always like, "te sientes muy chingon porque eres gringo." [you feel really cool because you are a gringo] Like, "Like no no me siento, pero si quieres te lo demuestro.” [no, I don’t but I if you want I can show you] And he was always like, ganando territorio, ganando barrio, [gaining territory, gaining neighborhood] I guess it would be?
Jeimmy: He went through a hard time because he was actually having to prove that he was worth enough to be in the hood with all these people. Because in Mexico or, well, at least where I live, it’s cerro [mountains (rural)]. So the first generation is our grandparents. Our grandparents first got there. Then my parents grew up there and they had their kids.
Jeimmy: So all these generations have been there for years. When I got to Mexico, I would see this old lady: "Oh I remember you. You were like two years old when I met you," or, they would ask me a lot, “tu de quien eres?” [whose are you?] and I would be like, "soy hija de Keto” I am Keto’s daughter] Because they use like—how do you say it—apodos? [nicknames]
Jeimmy: So, a mi papá le decían el Keto, [my dad was called Keto] So, I would be like, “soy hija de Keto.” [I am Keto’s daughter] And they're like, "oh, eres nieta de Emilia.” [you are Emilia’s granddaughter] And I'm like, yeah. So, that's how they identify like who you are.
Briana: By your family?
Jeimmy: It's basically that. That my brother had to prove to everybody else that he was worth being there, that he was also Mexican, and that he could be as good as them for just living there.
Briana: So did they view his living in the United States and his being born in the United States as something negative?
Jeimmy: They see it as something higher than them, and they just can't accept it.
Tim: So, you're happy to be back in Mexico?
Tim: Are your parents too?
Jeimmy: Yeah. My dad, he still has that mentality of wanting to go back. And it's because when he left Mexico, he may have a -- una profesion. [a profession] He got over there and, like I told you, he was pitching peaches, cherries. Then he was working at a fabric. But then, one day, he saw a sign that said, "We need welders." And he's like, "Oh, necesitan soldadores, [the need welders] but I don't know how to weld. But I'm going to go anyway."
Jeimmy: So, he found the supervisor and he's like, "Oh, you're Mexican, huh?" He's like, “Yeah.” "Oh, okay. Well then." And my dad is like, “[Nervous noise].’ It was horrible, but he's like, "Okay, I'm going to show you how to weld." So my dad started learning how to be a welder and became an ingeniero industrial. [industrial engineer] So, he knows a lot of things that is not very common here in Mexico. He knows how to do it.
Jeimmy: So, he would start looking for jobs where he said, “If I weld this, just to do it, because this whole thing costs like 10,000 pesos, they're already like, ‘I'm getting paid, I don't know, 3000 for it. Y nada mas’” Like 10 minutes of doing it, the company was already getting paid thousands of pesos for it. And he was only getting paid like 1,000 and change a week.
Jeimmy: So, he's like, "I'm working for this company that's making thousands of pesos, y a mi nada mas me pagan 1000 pesos a la semana. " [they are only paying me 1000 pesos a week] So he didn't like that. He's like, "They're not paying me enough for what I know how to do." So he started looking for more and more jobs, and he started noticing that jobs that have nothing to do what he does pay more than what he actually knows how to do.
Jeimmy: So he became like chofer de metrobus,[bus driver] he became like taxista, [taxi driver] and he's like, "I don't like this. I don't like being a chofer. [driver] I want to do what I like doing. But it's not paid well here, so I want to go back to the States and work over there." So yeah, that's basically why he wants to go back.
Tim: If your parents do go back, do you think you might or you—
Jeimmy: Oh no. We had that conversation before. I told them, "Yo me quedo aquí en la casa. [I am staying here, in the house] You guys can send me money and I'll like yo construyo la casa [I’ll build the house] but I'm staying here." Yeah.
Tim: Your brothers who are both American citizens have they considered going back or do they?
Jeimmy: Yes. My 19 -year old brother, I don't know why he hasn't left yet. He would have already left. But I guess he doesn't want to, I don't know. And my 15- year old brother, he's like indeciso. [undecided] Because he was like five years old when we came back. So he forgot English. He understands it, but he doesn't speak it well. So he's like, "If I do go back, I want to go back with someone because I don't know much English." So yeah, he's still in a dilemma.