Growing Up in Latin America

Joselina was born in a large city in northern South America. She remembers her childhood being “pretty perfect” and happy. She grew up with her mother, father and P1010038brother, but also lived near her grandparents and extended family. So although she only had one brother, Joselina was always surrounded by cousins and other family members. She has fourteen cousins- two girls and twelve boys- so friends and partners in crime were always around. Joselina and her cousins would play and do everything together, often going away to the farm and riding horses on the weekends. Although many of her cousins live in the United States, Joselina does not keep in touch with many of them. She remembers that her childhood was “pretty happy” until she was 12, when her grandparents passed away. This caused the extended family to split up.

Throughout her childhood, Joselina’s mother was a stay-at-home mom. Her father worked at the factory owned by Joselina’s grandfather. Joselina’s father retired approximately 20 years ago and works in real estate in their home country. Her brother is married and has children; he lives near his parents and works in the family factory. Joselina’s immediate family has never been to United States, so she has been unable to see them for 12 years.

4020650568_e5bdd85a6b_n (2)Joselina describes herself as never fitting in with traditional gender roles. When she was 16, Joselina’s father bought her a car, and she used that car to break with traditional gender norms. At such a young age, she put up signs offering “taxi” services to university students around town. She remembers that she would “take people from one university to another and pick them up”. Joselina’s father was very upset when he found out what she was doing, claiming that people were “going to think I don’t give you what you need”. This was Joselina’s first taste of independence; she wanted to make money and not give explanations about what her money was spent on. Her actions broke with traditional gender norms in her family, and Joselina used this opportunity as a basis for future educational opportunities that would come her way.

Listen to Joselina’s view on gender and gender roles.