Our Moving Stories: Episode 6 — StephanieConversation with: Stephanie.
This podcast is hosted by Bruno Villegas & Ariadne Pacheco.
Though Stephanie was born in Mexico, she left when she was 2, and has no memories of there, as she has never been able to return—as such (in her words) she has nothing to miss from her birthland. On the other hand, she grew up in a community in Southern California with many others from similar backgrounds who supported one another in a variety of ways—indeed she explicitly says that her strength comes from that community. They exchange emotional, tangible, and informational supports that are invaluable and life sustaining.
It is (as she says) “an open secret” that many others in the community are Undocu (the affectionate term she uses to describe member of the undocumented community). While some young people do not come to realize their status until mid-adolescents at milestone moments like when they wish to apply for a driver’s license or college, Stephanie recognizes early in her childhood of her family’s and her own precarious status. She vividly recalls a moment in her early elementary years walking with her mother as she pushed a stroller and realizing as an ICE vehicle passed that they could be deported at any moment.
In her adolescence and in college she becomes actively involved in activism to promote change though she confides, “Activism is exhausting.” Juggling, navigating her own status, helping her family, being a good student, working, being in survival mode, and healing traumas, have stretched her thin—During the interview, she laments, “I am too tired to be the change I want to see in the world. And I am only 23.”
Stephanie also shares insights into how intersecting identities play a role in complexifying her developmental journey. As she says, she is Brown, Undocu, and queer. She finds the UC Berkeley community a particularly welcoming place to first openly disclose and then explore those intersecting complexities.
Despite the challenges of her journey, Stephanie is experienced by her peers as a warm, humorous, engaged, and a beloved friend. Her interview sheds light again, on how her Undocu status complexifies access to resources and imposes precarity and uncertainty on what should be promising life pathway.