I was born in Los Angeles, California, two days after the Rodney King riots were quelled, and the city was shakingly returning to a semblance of normalcy. I attended an English-Spanish two-way dual language immersion program in elementary school, where my first language of Spanish was allowed to grow and solidify in my mind. The cohort of children who went through the program were and are today some of my closest friends, their parents likewise maintaining close ties to my own mother and father. My younger brother, Diego, was born five years after me, and suffered the loss of most of his Spanish when a group of nativist-minded parents at our elementary school shut down the bilingual program in his second year. We both took piano lessons, each beginning at age six. In middle school, I participated in a community theater organization, the Silverlake Children’s Theater Group. I was forever afterward cured of my earlier shyness and reticence to meet new people.
I attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, a highly competitive school that offers professional-grade arts education programs to a select group of admitted students free of cost. Many of my friends went on to attend such schools as TISCH at NYU, Julliard, Rhode Island School for Design, and Cooper Union. I studied acting and theater, but after taking up the accordion in my second year, became involved with a musical group, Moses Campbell, that enjoyed successes in the LA area and in other West Coast cities like Oakland, Seattle, and Portland.
I discovered capoeira towards the end of my high school experience, and today continue to train, study, and participate in capoeira events in Portland, Oregon, where I have been living for five years. I came to Lewis & Clark College of Arts and Sciences to study anthropology, but ended up graduating with a degree in history. While there, I developed a passion for cultural studies, and a particular interest in the transnational history of the Americas. I was lucky to study with historians of all geographic and temporal regions, literary scholars, anthropologists, and linguists, and even to befriend a few upon graduation.
As a graduate, I found employment as an education assistant in a medium-security shelter for undocumented, unaccompanied minors from Mexico and Central America. I leapt at the opportunity to interact directly with people whose minds and bodies carried distinctly the history of colonial processes that had occurred centuries ago, and that continued to play themselves out in the present. I witnessed firsthand the violent convulsions of federal border regulations and their repercussions, the instability of the provision of services, and the valiant, stop-gap effort of education within such a shelter to ameliorate aforementioned ills. I ascended to the position of teacher in the summer of 2015, attempting to overcome my lack of professional experience of training with a fierce appreciation for my students and a recognition of their right to a safe, orderly, welcoming space in which to create a learning community.
Towards the end of my tenure as a teacher, I received an unexpected Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship award to go live and teach English in Brazil for the 2016 school year. I resigned from the program (though not before Portland Public Schools took over the educational services), and assumed the role of a volunteer assisting in a capoeira class for the young men of the program. In a month and a half, I will take up residency in the city of Aracaju, in the Northeastern state of Sergipe, to serve as an ETA for the Inglês sem Fronteiras program at the Federal University of Sergipe.