Fieldnote, 19 Feb. 2013

Worked with three students in my two hours this time, and I had an interaction with a parent, a father. I helped third grader Tomas with his homework. He attends an elementary school on the east side of the city, on the opposite side of Mexington, some distance away. I didn’t ask him if he lived close to his school, but I’ve come to understand that there is a barrio on that side of the city as well. In fact, barrios are emerging all around the circle that surrounds the city, though Mexington on the west side is by far the biggest of all.

We did some math, then some language, and finally we read a book. When I finished working with Tomas, I stepped outside the tutoring space near some stacks of reference books. Tomas’s father approached me, and he shook my hand. He thanked me for helping his son. We began to chat and he asked me where I was from. I told him from Arizona, and I made reference to my family’s migration history from Sonoroa and Sinaloa.

“Ah, nortenos,” he said.

“La verdad. Y usted? De donde eres?” I asked.

“Oaxaca,” he said. He mentioned a name of a city, but I wasn’t sure where specifically because it was a village name. I asked him how close it was to Tehuacan, a reference point for me in the area of southern Puebla, and a place I knew well from teaching there five years ago. He said that Tehuacan was distant.

I had a difficult time keeping up with his Spanish, but I understood enough that where he was from was closer to Orizaba than Tehuacan though that was still some distance for him.

I asked him if he had any more children. He indicated that he did, a daughter. He pointed to Sara working with you girl, his daughter, Perla.

“M’ija” he said.

“Ah, con mi esposa,” I said.

“O si?”

“Si, si, si.”

“Ustedes son maestros, no?”

I indicated that yes, we were. He asked me what school. I had to say UK, and I was somewhat hesitant to say this because I didn’t want to disrupt our banter by emphasizing any inequalities. But I said UK.

“La universidad?”

“Si.”

“Que bueno, muy lindo que usted ayuda nuestros hijos acá.”

I responded, in my best Spanish. “Bueno, soy un investigador, y tambien, quiero ayudar toda la gente Mexicana para obtener metas educativas. Es bien importante para mi.”

“Que bueno.”

“Es porque yo soy la primera persona en my familiar para atender* la universidad. Quiero ser un modelo para los jovenes.”

“Y su esposa?”

“Ella es una estudiante, pero maestra tambien.”

“Ustedes son una familia de maestros.”

“Si si, claro que si.”

He nodded, and again shook my hand. At that moment his daughter emerged from her tutoring session.

“Perla, saluda el maestro, es un profesor de la universidad.”

She shook my hand.

“Are you going to take my class someday?”

“I don’t know,” she said.

“Yes you will,” I said.

Her father smiled and laughed.

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