Audio Recording of Interview
Born in Cuba and raised in Mexico from the ages of 6-12, Mariam describes growing up in a multicultural environment in Cancun before coming to the United States. She discusses developing her identity having lived in three countries as well as her relationship to faith.
Other interviews of this person can be found below:
Narrator: Mariam Cruz
Location: Miami, Florida
Summary: Born in Cuba and raised in Mexico from the ages of 6-12, Mariam describes growing up in a multicultural environment in Cancun before coming to the United States. She discusses developing her identity having lived in three countries as well as her relationship to faith.
Topics: Childhood, Cultural Adjustment, Education, Family, Emigration Process, Language, Religious Practice, Spirituality
Section 1: (00:00: 28)
Childhood - Ms. Cruz moved around a lot during her childhood. She lived in different areas of Cuba, moved to Mexico and ultimately settled in the United States.
Section 2: (00:01:09)
Stereotypes - Ms. Cruz recalls her Cuban neighborhoods as being pleasant and as having members who looked out for one another. This, she emphasizes, contradicts the general narrative about Cuba being an impoverished country.
Childhood - Besides her parents, Ms. Cruz also had her grandmother as a caretaker. She and her cousins, who were her neighbors, attended school and visited a park – both of which were in very close proximity to her home.
Disparities - Unlike in Havana, in other places like Cardenas, where Ms. Cruz lived, it was more difficult to obtain services such as education and water. Havana was also more technologically advanced and, culturally different: communities were not as tight knit as they were in smaller, rural towns.
Family - Ms. Cruz’s father is an architect; once, he received a job offer in Cancún, Mexico causing the family to move there when Ms. Cruz was six years old. She remembers her parents having a harder time adjusting culturally than she did.
Section 3: (00:09:52)
Language - In Cancún, Mexico, Ms. Cruz was exposed to different people and cultures. She also began to learn English in a private school.
Cultural adjustment - Ms. Cruz’s Spanish accent is a blend of the Cuban and Mexican accents; it was further influenced when she moved to the US. She calls it “neutral” because other Spanish speakers always fail to figure out her hispanic background through it.
Religious Practice - In her Mexican school, Ms. Cruz venerated – as per school expectation and schedule – La Virgen de Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. This was a different experience for her because in Cuba and in her new household in Mexico, her parents venerated San Lazaro who has been connected to Santería.
Spirituality - Ms. Cruz identifies as agonistic. Although she was raised as a Catholic, it became harder for her and her family to practice their faith after moving to the US.
Section 4: (00: 20: 32)
Religious Practice - Ms. Cruz did not successfully complete her First communion. The more her parents grew distant from their faith, the more she did as well.
Education - The school Ms. Cruz attended in Mexico engaged students in celebrations of cultural holidays. For example, Ms. Cruz remembers wearing colorful costumes for El dia de los muertos (Day of the Dead).
Section 5: (00:29:50)
Family - At twelve years of age, Ms. Cruz moved to the US with her parents. Her father was looking for employment since he had lost his job in Mexico.
Emigration Process - At an airport by the Mexican-US border, Ms. Cruz’s parents had to pay a man that was bothering them about their imminent resettlement into the US. At the parole place, Ms. Cruz noticed that families with the kids were released much quicker than those without.
Section 6: (00:32:45)
Language - Once she started schooling in the US, Ms. Cruz was given an ESOL test, which she passed to the surprise of many. According to her, her English greatly improved thereafter, but she did not face extreme challenges.
Cultural adjustment - The abundance of Cubans in Miami Lakes, where Ms. Cruz and her family eventually settled, enabled her to reconnect with Cuban culture, which she had lost contact with in Mexico.
Identity - Ms. Cruz considers herself multicultural – Cuban, Mexican, American – due to her experiences in all three countries.
Section 7: (00: 42: 21)
Education - Compared to her classes in America, Ms. Cruz’s classes in Mexico were far smaller, fostering close relationships between students. In Mexico, Ms. Cruz received instruction in both Spanish and English at school.
Education - Ms. Cruz is a member of the class of 2020; she is now a student at the University of Florida.
Section 7: (00: 54: 51)
Politics - Ms. Cruz believes that the Black Lives Matter movement was necessary because it exposed how very much alive racism still is in America.