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Cedar Mill & Bethany Libraries Podcasts

Listen to staff picks, teen book discussions, library performances, oral histories from local immigrants and the history of the library from some of its founders. 

  • Words of Wiser - Various members of our staff gather to discuss what we are reading, watching or listening to. Get great recommendations from our friendly staff.
  • The Chowder Chat with the Teen Library Council, where they share their views on pop culture, literary news and more! 
  • Parent Information Series - This annual workshop series explores parenting issues with experts in their fields. When we record one of these workshops, it will appear here. 
  • Founders' Oral History - Travel back in time to the early days of the library's founding. Listen as these community activists share their memories of the grassroots movement that resulted in today's Cedar Mill Community Library.
  • Community Oral History - In 2009, in honor of Oregon's sesquicentennial, we recorded 14 interviews with local immigrants and descendants of immigrants to illustrate the importance of immigration on our community. More interviews were added in 2011. This Oral History Project was done with the help of Matt Hiefield and his history students at Sunset High School. More information...

Jul 25, 2011

This interview is a part of our continuing set of Oral History interviews with local immigrants.  Luis discusses with a Sunset high school student what it is like to be an immigrant in Oregon from Mexico, what the differences are, what he misses and doesn't miss and how he and his family ended up in Oregon. This interview with Luis Amezcua was conducted at Sunset High School in May 2011.

Oral History 2011 Luis Amezcua

Mark: You are listening to the Cedar Mill Community Library’s 2011 Oral History Series recorded at Sunset High School, where high school students interviewed local immigrants to learn about what it means to be an immigrant in America and in Oregon. This year we interviewed several immigrants from Mexico, Latin America and South America. This interview is with Luis Amezcua, a Mexican immigrant working in a high-tech field here in Oregon. So enjoy!

(00:30) Interviewer: My name is Caitlyn Herzmann, a Sunset senior from Sunset High School and today I am interviewing.

Luis Amezcua: Luis Amezcua, my name, from Mexico City.

(00:43) Interviewer: Were you born there?

Luis Amezuca: Yes, I was born in Mexico City.

(00:46) Interviewer: Have you stayed there a majority of your life?

Luis Amezuca: Yes. After college I moved to another city for Grad school.

(00:54) Interviewer: When did you come to Portland?

Luis Amezuca: I came to Portland in 2007.

(1:00) Interviewer: Why did you come here?

Luis Amezuca: I moved from San Diego; I moved here for work.

(1:06) Interviewer: You came for work.

Luis Amezuca: Pretty much running away from the high cost of California.

(1:11) Interviewer: Okay, okay! What do you work as here?

Luis Amezuca: I work as a Software Engineer.

(1:17) Interviewer: Software Engineer, nice! Did you come with your family here?

Luis Amezuca: Yes!

(1:23) Interviewer: With your wife and children?

Luis Amezuca: Yes. My wife is not Mexican. That’s another different thing. My wife is American. She was born in Washington D.C.

(1:31) Interviewer: Did you meet her in California?

Luis Amezuca: No, I met her in Washington, no we met in Mexico. Then we moved to Washington D.C. Then we moved to California, then we moved to Oregon.

(1:41) Interviewer: Very nice! All over the place here! Alright!

Luis Amezuca: We met in Mexico and we start dating in Mexico.

(1:48) Interviewer: So why did you come to Oregon instead of staying in California?

Luis Amezuca: Cost of living.

(1:53) Interviewer: Cost of living? Alright, less expensive here. What were the biggest challenges that you faced coming here?

Luis Amezuca: Here in Oregon? Ok! The weather.

(2:04) Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: My experience moving to the U.S., that was very cultural shock was. Because to me it doesn’t make a difference, U.S. or Washington D.C or Oregon is pretty much the same to me. There is differences and I know that people from here think that the East Coast is so different; but to me it is very similar.

(2:25) Interviewer: Okay! How or what were your feelings when you came to Washington D.C? What were the differences that were noticeable?

Luis Amezuca: That is very different! For once l really miss the food. That was the thing that I missed.

(2:39) Interviewer: What were your favorite foods that you missed?

Luis Amezuca: My mom’s cooking.

(2:41) Interviewer: (Laughs)

Luis Amezuca: Well like home cooking, you know because in Mexico that’s what you do. You don’t go to restaurants as much; you pretty much eat at home. Like when I was living in different place, when I was going to grad school, we used have these places where you get home food.

(3:00) Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: It is not very sophisticated or what you think of Mexican food, but it is something that I really miss.

(3:11) Interviewer: What would be the main Mexican dish that you would normally make?

Luis Amezuca: Me? I don’t cook!

(3:17) Interviewer: Or your mother would make?

Luis Amezuca: (Laughing) I don’t cook!

(3:19) Interviewer: I know! What would your mother make?

Luis Amezuca: I don’t know. So, what I really miss is, things that I don’t eat very often in Mexico. For example, in Christmas we eat certain things and special occasions those are the ones that are really elaborate that I miss. But also, the little things like the cheeses, they are very different, the beans, they are never made the same. They put sugar in beans here, for me that’s almost blasphemy. You guys put sugar in beans, like its sweet. So I am much used to more spicy food, you know what I mean. Anyway, that’s basically, one of the first things that shock me. Also, you have to follow rules all the time.

(4:07) Interviewer: Okay! What were the main rules that you find hard to follow?

Luis Amezuca: Everything! Like traffic rules!

(4:13) Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: Living in Mexico you don’t follow rules! You go by instinct and non-written rules, like for example, you can always pass like a red light if there is no a cop around, that’s a rule!

(4:27) Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: And get caught! But it’s ok! You know what I mean? You grew up with that and you don’t think there’s a place where actually people follow rules or respect rules. So, it wasn’t like shocking, but to me it was like very different experience.

(4: 45) Interviewer: What year did you move to Washington D.C?

Luis Amezuca: 1998

(4:50) Interviewer: What were the main events going on in?

Luis Amezuca: So, we moved because my wife was going back to grad school.

(4:55) Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: She wasn’t my wife. And she told me that I was going to be able to go to grad school in the U.S. Because in the U.S everything is fine and peachy! But it is not if you’re an immigrant, I didn’t have a visa to go to school! So we find out the hard way that it is not so hard for somebody from here to get some kind of stipend and help to go to grad school, especially in Science; but for somebody who has no, you know, no means or no money nor like already applied for a school, and get through the whole process, trying to get financial help, it was very difficult. So, I gave up on the idea of going back to grad school and start working.

(5:45) Interviewer: Where did you start working?

Luis Amezuca: So first, I couldn’t work legally because I was here with a tourist visa.

(5:53) Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: So, I have to work, just helping people out and stuff. Her brother has a business. So I helped him out a little bit. That was until I was able to get a work permit. And then I start working in another company. What I was doing like Lab Tech. They call it scientist. But it was really lab tech, because what you do is basically help people, like the senior researcher and stuff on their experiments and do data analysis and things. So that was what I start working on. I was really really underpaid. I realized that that’s their I realized that they were making more money than me.

(5:38) Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: That’s another thing, in the U.S. nobody talks about how much you make. Nobody says that ever! In Mexico it is kind of like, ok you say, hey how much you make? So..

(6:49) Interviewer: Did you go back to school after you got work permit?

Luis Amezuca: No! After in the U.S I have not been back to school. I took some classes, some programming.

(6:58) Interviewer: Nice! You have made it all the way up, by not, just by no school! Very nice!

Luis Amezuca: The thing is I gave up working on Science, which is what I really like! So programming is easy. It pays really well, way better than when I was working in Science, you have to have a Ph.D. to get somewhere. Everybody where was working in that field, everybody without Ph.D. was making peanuts. And not even like Ph.D.’s were making that much money. First the job that I got I thought I asked for a lot of money and they were like, not sure, they didn’t want to hire me because I was asking for too little. So that’s how I didn’t even know I thought I was asking like too much, but I thought I want to take my chance; but they were like, “we were wondering why you were asking so little?!” I was like, oops, I would have asked for more if I knew.

(7: 58) Interviewer: Do you remember what that wage was that you asked for?

Luis Amezuca: Yeah! I asked for, I was making 50 grand a year and I asked for 65.

(8:06) Interviewer: Mm hmm.

Luis Amezuca: And I was like, oh my God, I am asking, no way they are going to give me a job. I went too far and they gave me job, but everybody was making 70 or 75. During that period I went to four or five companies in three or four years. Every time  I got a new job and got a new raise like 10 and 15 grand.

(8:30) Interviewer: Good!

Luis Amezuca: Because, it is easy to get a raise than staying in that place and you get 2% or something.

(8:38) Interviewer: When you first moved to the United States, how was your English?

Luis Amezuca: I was able to read but not write.

(8:47) Interviewer: Not write! How was speaking?

Luis Amezuca: Speaking, I thought I was able to, but nobody understood me.

(8:52) Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: Still some people have trouble, I have to slow down and sometimes people don’t understand my pronunciation, but I think it is better now than before, just out of practice.

(9:05) Interviewer: How was that a challenge when you got here in trying to get employed or getting your visa for work permit?

Luis Amezuca: To get a work permit there is no problem. You don’t need to speak English.

(9:15) Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: They never ask you for that! Even for citizenship they don’t ask you really. They ask, I mean the question they asked me was so simple. That I was like wow, I could have done this when I was in high school. This English test that I did for citizenship. So it’s very very easy.

(9:35) Interviewer: When did you become a citizen?

Luis Amezuca: Right before the Kerry election. 2004? Yes 2004

(9:43) Interviewer: Okay! Did you get back through your wife or

Luis Amezuca: Yes!

(9:48) Interviewer: So was it the case ….

Luis Amezuca: It’s easy! Because when you marry a U.S. citizen and we went through the interview and they asked questions. Hey you guys marry for the papers? I was like did we have to kiss?

(10:04) Interviewer: Yeah!

Luis Amezuca: And we didn’t have any proof and we have photos of Mexico and those guys saw that obviously we didn’t marry for the papers, you know. We have been together for five years at that point or something and we have.. so anyway, that’s how I got the, it wasn’t a real problem; I know that it is difficult for people who go through different avenues. But going through that particular one was easy, the work permit was also easy.

(10:40) Interviewer: Did you face any racial discrimination when you first moved to Washington D.C.?

Luis Amezuca: I had to come from my own idea of what is discrimination. But I have, not as much as in D.C. as in .. so. The time that I felt it the most wasn’t even, no word was spoken. But I felt so uncomfortable. I was driving through Pennsylvania, the rural area. We were going from D.C. to Niagara Falls. So this is a very diverse area. So where my wife grew up, she was in the minority. I mean, its mostly Black. And I start interact along with black people like in the basketball court. So I always love playing basketball. So I start playing; I feel a little discriminated because they assumed that I didn’t even know how to play. You know what I mean?

(11:34) Interviewer: Yeah!

Luis Amezuca: But it wasn’t like bad. It was like this guy probably sucks. And then I started playing with them; and I wasn’t the best but I wasn’t the worst; I was able to keep up with them. But it is funny, at one point somebody told me, so they weren’t sure if I was.. because I didn’t talk a lot, you remember seeing people playing basketball, black people playing basketball, when they are like mostly blacks; I think they act different when they are mostly black; when they are in a non-black environment, you know what I mean? But when they are in the Hood, they act different and they talk a lot and it looks like they’re gonna fight a lot; they talk trash a lot; and they’re really like physical but never get to the point where they fight; never that I saw, I guess I have; it just feels that way, it’s kind of feels intimidating at first, so I didn’t talk a lot. I just played, right? But some of them didn’t know if I really spoke English or not, they talked to me, but they were like, I don’t know if this guy understands, and then one guy told me, you can probably not even tell us apart; we all look alike. That’s kind of a racial connotation and I said, “Yeah, you guys all look alike”. So, he was like shocked, because I was being racist because that sounds racist. But to me coming from a place where you’ve never seen black people, its like the first time you see Chinese people, they pretty much look alike; because we are not conditioned to see the difference. So now I know, that for people that have never seen Mexican they probably all look alike. That’s the not the same as being racist, it’s just the fact, just because you’re not used to them. After a while, then you start like seeing them and how they are different but just different in different ways. You know what I mean? But when I felt discriminated was in a place where it is not diverse at all; the first time I saw white people working in McDonalds. That’s when I knew I was in white country because if you go to McDonalds there was always black or Hispanic; at least in D.C. right, so. But I went to Pennsylvania and I went to McDonalds and the guy working in the counter was white; but when I walked in that place, I felt so bad, because everybody looks at me, like what are you doing here, you’re know what I mean? I don’t know, nobody say a word, but I felt so uncomfortable, to the point that I felt almost threated, that I just walked out.

(14:13) Interviewer: Oh, you just walked out?

Luis Amezuca: I didn’t get my burger, I was like Okay

(14:19) Interviewer: Were they all white inside?

Luis Amezuca: Everybody! Everybody in the town! So if people working in McDonald’s is white, then that town is white. That’s how you can say. (laughing) I don’t know! Kind of that’s what I’ve seen. Usually minorities work in McDonalds, Asian, whatever. But that’s the time I felt.. it wasn’t like a discrimination, per se but I just felt really out of place. I wanted to be out of there as soon as possible. You feel the tension and stuff so went back to the car and told my wife; you go get the burger. She’s white, so I was like, ok, you go get the burger!

(14:58) Interviewer: What differences were the most obvious to you when you came here?

Luis Amezuca: Differences, as in? The sun doesn’t work, like, I never saw a sunny day that is called in Mexico, you don’t have that! The sun is not called, it is guaranteed. And in Mexico City it can’t get cold because it is really high, so you get like even frost and you get like ice on top of, like you know if you leave a bucket of water outside you get ice on top, so

(15:30) Interviewer: How about snow?

Luis Amezuca: There’s no humidity, because it’s kind of dry. It would probably snow if it was raining, but its kind of dry, the winter especially is dry; its surrounded by volcanoes, Mexico City. So there’s always no volcanoes; but that’s even in summer. But as soon as the sun comes out, boom, it’s warm. In D.C. it was sunny and it was so cold! I was like what’s wrong with this, that’s surprising. I don’t know, it’s just weird that’s just one of the things that struck me. The sun doesn’t work here.  I don’t know! Like I say, the food, the fact that people don’t talk as much to strangers and stuff! So, in Mexico everybody uses public transportation pretty much, because it is crowded, that if you want to drive downtown, good luck! You can never find a parking spot, ever! And you have to pay parking anyway, so it’s just easier to take the Metro or something. And people talk, you know to strangers and stuff. And you know, small talk, whatever. But here you don’t like look at people in the eye, people think, and I even learned the word for that. You have a word for that, it’s called staring, right?

(16:55) Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: That word doesn’t exist in Spanish! That concept doesn’t exist. If you’re looking at somebody, you’re looking at somebody, you know. In D.C. it happened to me, I was looking at a black guy and he felt like I was trying to fight him or something. He says, “what you’re looking at?” He was with another guy; he was with three young kids, right but I was looking at them because I was really like, looking at different people, you know I was like in a different place in the world, so like if  you go to Japan, you probably look, oh man people here are different, so you look at them. So I learned that you cannot look at them.

(17:32) Interviewer: Okay, okay!

Luis Amezuca: He felt like I was threatening, kind of like threatening way, but I wasn’t I was just looking at him. He was really aggressive towards me, like “what you’re looking at? “like really coming at me, and I was like, “Nothing!”.

(17:49) Interviewer: How long did you stay in Washington, D.C.?

Luis Amezuca: Three and a half years.

(17:54) Interviewer: So, you got some snow while you were there.

Luis Amezuca: Yeah!

(17:56) Interviewer: Is that when the sun came and you were cold?  

Luis Amezuca: No, see, in winter there doesn’t even need to be snow. Its colder in Oregon. Not Oregon, I guess Portland is not as cold as Bend or La Grande or something. But yeah it is cold in winter!

(18:13) Interviewer: So, was that a lot different from Mexico?

Luis Amezuca: Yeah, it’s not cold in Mexico. I guess in the nights it gets cold, but as soon as the sun comes out, it’s not warm, but it gets to the 50s, 60s you know.

(18:25) Interviewer: Okay. So, you were like almost like regionalized shocked of the different temperatures?

Luis Amezuca: Yeah and the seasons, right? In Mexico the season like, summer is warmer but here in this year specially, it’s so extreme; summers are so hot, way hotter than Mexico City. It’s like very hot it’s like in the 100s and its very humid and winter its cold. So, you get and you also see the seasons. You know you don’t have that as marked in Mexico. So that was another part. But I think, mostly it’s the people. How different it is to be in a place, like a different country, like a different continent I really like the fact that I was able to meet people from Africa, from Russia. When I was working, I get along with Russian really well because well there were two of them. I guess, I get along better with foreigners because we shared the same as.. you know like Americans who were born and raised here, I mean they were nice to us, everybody was; it was not a discrimination thing it was like they have more in common with the other guys from the same town, they talk about this show in the 70s and I was like, I wasn’t here or this show; they talk about shows in T.V. or movies and I was like, people assume in that U.S. that everybody watches American movies.

(19:57) Interviewer: I see. Yeah definitely!

Luis Amezuca: But sometimes it’s the case, but not always, you know. Like somebody was shocked that I didn’t know about the O.J. Simpson’s trial. And they were like, “how come you don’t know about that, it’s so important!” and I was like, probably was important here. In the big scheme of things, who cares?

(20:15) Interviewer: What was pop culture like in Mexico City?

Luis Amezuca: Oh, Mexico City has its own thing. So, we do have a lot of American influence. Not as much in the border, in the border towns in Mexico, like they even speak Spanglish, right? We have a word for parking, but they call parker. Which sounds like parking. So they use like Spanglish.

(20:46) Interviewer: I do that! I do better!

Luis Amezuca: What? You would not understand, no, they pronounce it differently. Kind of in-between.

(20:58) Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: So, I just want to make sure! But definitely there is a lot of American influence, especially American music. Not American as much as British I guess, because, the better groups are British right? Like especially, maybe not now, but you talk about the 70s, 60s, 80s, U-2, Rolling stones, like all the bands that actually like survive, the classics are actually most of them are British.

(21:33) Interviewer: Yes!

Luis Amezuca: In Mexico you didn’t even know that they are British. In English they’re probably from the U.S. you know Americans like, even though they are not. But you don’t really know that. So you just..I used to sing the Beatles when I was a baby. They tell me, I don’t know.

(21:49) Interviewer: Okay! In terms of news and media how did you receive it in Mexico City?

Luis Amezuca: So it’s so local. TV, like There’s like two big TV almost like a monopoly, there used to be one and another one popped. So, if you want to know about Mexico you don’t watch T.V. news. Because they really are reading whatever the government position is on certain issues. And they actually are more critical of the U.S. and other countries they assume, a better role of criticizing and analyzing. So for me, when I start going to college, then I start reading newspapers because newspapers are more critical of the government and I think more objective from my point of view.  They praise the government when they do some good things and they criticize, and then T.V. you never hear any criticism of the government, never never. But that’s what most people consume. The government figured out we control the T.V, who cares about newspaper, that’s only about 5% of the population who read the paper.

(23:05) Interviewer: What do you like most about Oregon living here now?

Luis Amezuca: so, I think it’s a nice place to raise a family. Its kind of my view and illusion, it might not be true. So, I am making good money, use as much money as in California and the cost of living is way less! So I was in San Diego I was living in the Hood, really. You couldn’t afford to live in a nice area. Here we live in a nice area, where you know it’s not, you know; when I was living in San Diego, my neighbors I saw the SWAT teams coming multiple times and you hear, this guy got shot, this neighbor, he’s dead, he got shot. You’re like, you don’t want your kids to grow up in that environment, so we really like that about Oregon. We live here in Bethany, not so far from here. So, our kids, they go to good schools, you know it’s just, that’s I think the biggest, biggest thing. We don’t like that it rains a lot and I mean in San Diego we used to go the beach a lot, right, we were just ten minutes from the beach we just pack our stuff, and you know, the problem was just getting parking, but you know that is a minor thing. But it was nice and convenient. But it was high price to pay, I think. I also really like the fact that the best part for me in San Diego was Tijuana. It was like 20 minutes; you just have to cross the border. The problem is crossing back because there’s a long line but it was nice because you could get a hair cut in Tijuana, free, me as a Mexican; you can get medicines, anti-biotics and things is way cheaper. Here you can order meds from Canada right, and its cheaper. But in Tijuana it is way cheaper, even though it is more expensive than anywhere else in Mexico, because they know it’s right next to the border and Americans go buy medicine.

(25:09) Interviewer: okay!

Luis Amezuca: But still its more expensive in Mexico but its way cheaper but like a third. Sometimes it was cheaper than the co-pay that we pay for the medicine.

(25:16) Interviewer: Wow, alright!

Luis Amezuca: I don’t know why they charge so much for medicine.

(25:22) Interviewer: Did you notice anything different between curfew that you grew up with?

Luis Amezuca: Yes, it is very different.

(25:31) Interviewer: What types of differences?

Luis Amezuca: Completely different! Like it will be hard for me to find similarities. So yeah, I don’t like this. I hate the fact they have social promotion; you know what is that? Like in Mexico let say you are in fourth grade; and if you don’t pass, you don’t have passing grades in everything you don’t go to fifth grade. Here you go to fifth grade, just because you’re alive! Just because you’re alive you go to fifth grade. I don’t like that. I think that would encourage the kids not to care.

(26:10) Interviewer: Like, they’ll get there anyways!

Luis Amezuca: Yeah, they’ll get there anyways. Who cares if they pass or not!

(26:16) Interviewer: What were some of the cultural morals in Mexico that you’d like Americans to take on that would be better for our culture?

Luis Amezuca: Pacifism. Peace is better than war. For some people that’s kind of a shocker but for me its obvious. I think that people here, they try to isolate; the American culture is like a bubble and I don’t think they take influence from other countries very well; or I don’t know, they don’t even care what’s going on in the world, it’s very American-centric, I think. As soon as I moved to the U.S. I stopped finding books from European authors that I used to read like Milan Kundera and also, I stopped watching French and British and Italian movies because in Mexico City you can find those. That’s the good part of being in a big city, even though like only 10% of the people care about foreign films, that’s 2 million people, right? Because there are 20 million people so 10% of 20 is still a lot of people. So, you have a lot of places to go and I miss that, here it is very American centric like the literature and the movies. They tend to think that the American problems, the American problems are of the world dimension. Like the world series in baseball which has nothing of the world, it’s just U.S. teams.

(27:53) Interviewer: No other teams like no Japanese or?

Luis Amezuca: They have Japanese players but that doesn’t make it the world cup. Like in the Mexican league there are Brazilian players and they don’t call it the Mexican championships. The world series is not a world series; nobody knows about the world series outside the U.S. and it’s called world series.

Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: It should be called the American series, right? You know that kind of stuff. If it’s good for the U.S. it is good for the world kind of attitude.

(28:21) Interviewer: Yeah!

Luis Amezuca: I noticed that as a foreigner. I can see now things that are bothering me about the Mexican culture that I see because I am outside, that I didn’t see when I was living there. You know you can see better your culture when you’re outside than when you’re embedded on it. So, it’s not surprising that most people don’t even think about those things because you live your whole life here, right?

(28:48) Interviewer: So, what do you miss most about Mexico?

Luis Amezuca: Miss? I used to miss the food; but I guess I don’t guess anymore! I don’t miss many things anymore. Other than my family really. I mean, it’s been what, from ’98 to now; thirteen years, too late for me to miss things. Sometimes, I don’t even know if I am idealizing the Mexico 15 years ago, that doesn’t even exist anymore. Mexico changed too; you know what I mean? Because I moved out of the country, the country stays!

(29:29) Interviewer: How often do you go back to visit?

Luis Amezuca: So, about every two years or something.

(29:37) Interviewer: When you were living in California, did you go back more often?

Luis Amezuca: Oh yeah! I didn’t go to Mexico City; I went to Tijuana.

(29:43) Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: Which is not the same; but at least something. (Laughs) At least you can get good tacos, fish tacos.

(29:52) Interviewer: Okay! What would you say the difference is between, what we call Mexican food here and what you know about Mexican food?

Luis Amezuca: So, Burritos, for example don’t exist in Mexico City. I think that most of the food that you guys get here as Mexican is from North Mexico, like Sonora and Chihuahua, that’s where burritos and Chimichangas and all of those things are from. And it’s kind of different from the food from Central Mexico, where I am from. So, I think that’s the main difference.

(30:31) Interviewer: What are the most important lessons that you’ve learnt while integrating into this country?

Luis Amezuca: Lesson that I learned is that you have to have an open mind, when you are talking to people from other cultures and don’t have any assumptions that they understand what you’re saying. Because in my culture we tend to talk less; in your culture there is always like, we need to talk about everything, vent everything right? You go to a party in the U.S. it is all about talking. You go to a party in Mexico, it’s all about dancing and drinking. Its what people do, even the grandmas. You don’t see that here, the Grandmas drinking and dancing; it’s not like—but here people talk right? But that’s a good thing too. You know, you need to talk. But in Mexico it’s more like you send signals and you say things like in more subtle ways..

(31:27) Interviewer: More socializing?

Luis Amezuca: Yeah, but not straight. Sometimes those signals work in your culture that people understand that grow up with you, you cannot translate that into people of other cultures and other countries and to me it’s been fascinating to learn the difference and also the similarities between me and somebody from Eritrea, a country in Africa, but we share things in common, like and the differences too. I don’t know; I think that the most valuable lesson is have an open mind, and don’t assume that they understand what they’re saying when you try to say something.

(32:11) Interviewer: What were the biggest challenges you faced?

Luis Amezuca: I think the life here is very safe, but not very fun! So, I always tell my wife that living in U.S. is like living in a hospital; you’re safe, you’re taken care of, your future is kind of safe, but you don’t want to live in a hospital, you know!  But on the same token when I go back to Mexico and I feel the chaos and I feel that safely is not anybody’s concern. Then you feel like maybe I am getting soft, and I am getting more Americanized than I was willing to admit. I don’t think I could live in Mexico City; I drive like an old lady now.

(33:04) Interviewer: Okay!

Luis Amezuca: Even though here they call me California driver, in Mexico City that’s like an old lady driving. That’s one thing, I don’t know; I am not used to, the whole living, so nervous about things. It’s hard to explain, like things happen in Mexico that makes you realize that your life is not really in your hands, that you don’t have control of your whole life, or your whole destiny; things happen and you might die next day.

(33:40) Interviewer: So was your wife moving back to Washington D.C. to finish her degree, the only reason you came to the United States or what else did you come for?

Luis Amezuca: Yeah! I wanted to be with her. I was really in love with my then girlfriend.

(34:00) Interviewer: Soon to be wife?

Luis Amezuca: Yeah! I would have followed her. She told me later that she would have stayed if I didn’t come. But I didn’t think she was going to stay; because I was in Grad school there, so I didn’t finish my grad school there because I moved here hoping that I would be able to enroll in a program in the U.S.; but it never happened. It’s very expensive! In Mexico you get paid to go to school or college.

(34:32) Interviewer: That’s a difference!

Luis Amezuca: Well maybe not I guess paid, but if you go to science and you get good grades, you can get qualified but it is free and here it is just so expensive. So, it’s not completely free, but I probably paid $20 per semester or something like that and it’s just for paper-work basically. I don’t understand why in the U.S. with so much money and such rich country, they cannot provide education for the people, I just don’t get it!

(35:00) Interviewer: So, if you were going to give advice to some incoming immigrant from somewhere what would be the one?

Luis Amezuca: People are not used to, especially people coming to work that never made any money, they work as day laborers in Mexico, you know where you make three bucks a day; you really don’t have the money, you pay for the next meal and that’s it; you’re broke again right, back to normal. I would say like you’re gonna earn some money now don’t just waste it; save.

(35:35) Interviewer: Save all that money!

Luis Amezuca: Because who knows what tomorrow is going to come, because situation might change, nothing lasts forever!

(35:48) Interviewer: Alright, thank you!