Me at a turtle habitat in Brazil.

My name is Jessica Valles. I am of Mexican descent, born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I am currently a junior at Dartmouth College and a Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies major, with a concentration in the relationship between Geography and History in the formation of Latino Identity. Needless to say, that the Oral History Project for the LATS 44 course tied in very well with my academic interests.

Having the opportunity to interview Kianny has been one of the most relaxed and entertaining assignments I’ve had to date. The transcribing of said interview for the creation of this oral history project was without a doubt one of the most time intensive assignments. Nevertheless, it was a truly humbling experience.

The course Crossing Over: Latino Roots and Transitions focused on the experiences of transnational migrants. As a LALACS major,  most of my coursework has been related to issues of migration, formation of identity, how history shapes current political, social, and economic climates, etc. However, this was the first time that I discussed these themes at such a personal level with someone other than a family member. It was a treat for me to be able to hear the experience of a Caribbean Latino, as most of my knowledge has been shaped by experiences of Mexican migrants. Having the opportunity to hear another person’s story and to be able to share that person’s story with others is a unique experience.

When deciding how to tell Kianny’s story, I kept going back and forth about whether I should tell it in the first-person or the third-person point of view. I wanted to remain true to her spirit and her words, without assuming her voice. Additionally, I wanted to make sure I conveyed the energy that she shared with me. Throughout the interview Kianny elaborated on the importance of family, education, and stressed how blessed she has been. Often times when we hear migration stories, the negative aspects are what are highlighted: starting life in a new country, learning a new language, adapting to a new culture and customs, among other hardships. Additionally it was interesting to hear Kianny’s contentions and negotiation of conceptions of home and belonging and how these have changed throughout her life.

This Oral History Project has served as one of the best in-depth applications of the themes and material learned in a course. I was lucky enough to be able to interview Kianny and hope that those who read her story will take away as much as I did; as well as be inspired to tell someone else’s story.