Though I have known Alejandra for many years, having the opportunity to formally interview her about her life story and experiences gave me new perspective and a better understanding of how she came to be the person she is today. I learned the importance of cosmopolitan life in creating a sense of belonging and community. While Chicago gave Alejandra many opportunities to expand her career, her drive, ambition, talent, and friendly nature are what really allowed her to succeed. Course readings in LATS 44: Latino Roots and Transitions by professor Gutiérrez Nájera gave background information, perspective, and historical information on migration to the United States. The oral history experience, however, provides a much more complex and personal account of migration. In addition, Alejandra’s story informed me on an experience we often didn’t hear in class, an Argentinean professional coming to the United States.
In her book Beyond the Borderlands, Shutika describes a transnational community as “a group of people for whom everyday life centers on the simultaneous engagement in the social life of two places” (Shutika 17). Alejandra leads a transnational life by keeping in touch with family and friends in Argentina by phone, visiting often, and taking care of her aging parents in Argentina. Alejandra is always in the know about her family in Argentina and even helps mediate disputes. Baker-Cristales describes migration as a remedy or response to unequal distribution of resources, a push-pull migration theory (20). While Argentina was recovering from the brutality of the Dirty War, Alejandra’s migration story began when she won a scholarship for Journalism. This scholarship allowed her to achieve career goals in the United States that would not have been possible in Argentina.
Interviewing over the phone certainly had its challenges; the transcription stage was tedious with a crackled recording and poor cell service. Once the transcription was completed, constructing a narrative was also challenging. It became very clear, during email exchanges with Alejandra, that I misinterpreted and/or omitted key parts of her story without even realizing. This made me realize how delicate the process of story-telling can be and how careful and conscious an editor must be. Telling another person’s story is a privilege. Thank you Alejandra, for allowing me into your world, even for a brief moment!