Hector M. Orozco

ENGL 100

Karen Wong

May 6, 2005, 2005

Oral History interview

Olga Vanessa Orozco Dueñas

Office Manager

San Leandro, California


            Nowadays is usual to hear that a lot of people from Latin America leave their country to look for better opportunities and a better life.  These countries are poor, and people immigrate to the United States in search of a better life.  Once these people are in this country, they have to deal with a different language and culture.  Being an immigrant is not as easy as it looks like.  A lot of people immigrate to places like the U.S. looking for a better life and help their families, but they risk their lives and spend most of their life struggling to accommodate themselves in a strange place.  This process is called Acculturation.  According to Margaret A. Gibson in Immigrant Adaptation and Patterns of Acculturation, “Acculturation is the process of culture change and adaptation that occurs when individuals with different cultures come into contact. Thus, to understand the acculturation process of immigrants settling in the United States, we must look closely at which cultures are coming into contact and with what effect (p. 1).  A person who passed through this process is Vanessa.  Even though Vanessa was born in the United States, she considers herself as an immigrant because she was raised and lived most of her life in Mexico. 

            Vanessa just turned 26 years old, and since the first day she came back to this country, her primarily goal has been to help her family and survive in this country.  She is an immigrant that due to a reality she was living in Mexico, she had to decide to make her own way coming to this country looking for a better life.  Vanessa was born in Los Angeles California in 1979.  She lived for two years, but then, her parents took her to Mexico.  In Mexico she went to elementary and middle school.  Later, Vanessa and her parents came back to the United States but this time with a sister and two brothers.  She went to her first two years of high school in Ontario California.  But once again she had to leave the country with her parents due to the conditions they were living.  She mentioned that her father thought that it was better for her and her siblings to be in Mexico because there was too much drugs and bad things she could get involve here in the United States.  Back in Mexico she finished her high school and during this time she learned a lot of things about her culture and history.

                        After I finished high school in this little town called Tenamaxtlan, I moved to the city of Guadlajara to do my university.  I actually started a career as a tourism administrator, and I was going pretty well and I was actually starting to be independent, which it was something that I really liked.  But I’m the older of my five brothers… and my sister, so I started seeing that my dad had a little problems to supporting me with my university, and I had to work to support my self… it was for my dad to help me with it.  My dad always reminded me that in the United States was a country of better opportunities… so I came to try and look for better opportunities.

            Vanessa is the oldest of five siblings.  She has one sister called Cynthia, and three younger brothers.  The younger is 12 years old and his name is Jose Alfredo, the next one is 18 years old and his name is Brian Salvador, and the older male is Hector who’s turning 22 years old.  Vanessa’s parents live in Mexico.  Her father’s name is Manuel Orozco, and her mother’s name is Maria Olga.  They have been married for 26 years already and she mentioned that they are a great family.  Vanessa’s grand parents from her father side died already, and on her mother’s side her grand mother is still alive.  She has a lot of family in the bay area, but she doesn’t received help from them.  The house she lives in is her uncle’s house, his name is Alfredo, whom she considers her guardian although sometimes he is very strict and makes her work for him for free.

            Vanessa works at a construction company in Oakland California where she manages the company’s offices and provides information about the company to other companies or customers who need their services.  She does different things depending what her boss wants.  At this company she has learned a lot of things and her boss is always pushing her to be better and keep with her education.  She mentioned that her boss is one of the only persons who have helped her here in the United States.  But to get to this job, she had to pass through a lot of experiences.  At first was hard for her to get a job because she did not know how the system worked in the United States, and also she did not know the language very well.  Her first job was in a factory were she was working long terms every day and getting pay the minimum wage.  That was not the job she wanted to have, but there were no more jobs that she could work at that time, so she took the job just to survive the first few months.  Vanessa was used to go to school and this was the first time she was working, and even worst, without the help of her parents.  She was by herself in this country, so she lo longer had their recommendations and their financial support.

            When she got to the United States she lived the first year with her aunt Maria who provided her with some help, but she had to pay rent since the first day she started to work.  Also her family was not an educated people, they were immigrants too, but with the difference that they didn’t want to learn and go to school, which Vanessa always had the dream of someday graduate form a four year university.  But she had to face some problems with them because every time she wanted to practice English they pushed her down making fun of her.  They never learned the language and it seems that they thought that she wouldn’t either.  They told her to work and not worry about school, because school was for lazy people and most people who graduate didn’t have a job, so it was better for her to work and get some money.  Vanessa said:

            “When I came back and lived with my family, I actually came trying to improve my English and started to speak English all the time, but they started laughing at me, and they intimidated me very much.  And they actually didn’t speak English, but they were always talking about my self… look this mexicanita speaking English… she hasn’t got into school and she thinks she can speak English…”.

But even though she was always taken down from her family she always kept it real and looked for people who could help her and show her how she could get into school.  Her priority was to finish school and help her family who was back in Mexico.

            Vanessa moved with her uncle Alfredo who told her that it was better for her to live him because she could do what ever she wanted and at the same time she could help him.  Since then she has been working and going to school.  Her major is business administration, but she mentioned that it’s going to take a long time before she graduates.  The reason is because she has to work to pay rent and all her bills, but also to send money to her family in Mexico.  Since the first day she came to the United States, she felt that it was an obligation for to help her family because they needed some money.

            Vanessa works hard and goes to school, but she also has different hobbies that take her out of the routine.  She loves dancing any type of music, but she mentioned that she doesn’t have much time to go out and dance.  Vanessa enjoys dancing and every time there is a free space on her busy life, she goes out to dance.  But she has another hobby that she enjoys doing it, and it is cooking.  She mentioned that since she was a child, she always liked cooking and always got involved in cooking helping her mother and going to cooking workshops.  Nowadays she cooks for fun, but also for her family.  Something that she doesn’t really likes because she feels that is an obligation for her since she is the only one who know how to cook, so she cooks almost every day for her family.

            Now that she has a good job and have experienced and learned how the American system works, her younger siblings came to live with her and look for the same dream, the American dream.  Vanessa still lives with her uncle Alfredo but now she has the support of her siblings who are living with her.  Vanessa feels so grateful because she has overcome a lot of obstacles and life is treating her better.  Although she went through many obstacles she managed herself to get a better life and feels so proud that she was able to help her family.

            Vanessa is a great person who is always willing to help her family.  She is always trying to help everyone, and some times more than she should.  She is always looking after her family, trying to improve their lives and making them happy.  But she also said that she worries more about her family than her self, and the worst thing is that some times she feels sad because some of them don’t appreciate what she does for them.  Vanessa is an immigrant who showed that if you want to progress, it doesn’t matter what obstacles are in your way, if you work for your dreams, they would come true.