The Shoulders We Stand On

This workshop began with introducing ourselves and the shoulders we stand on. While a little awkward and time consuming, this was such a nice pause in our usually busy lives. I think it was most powerful because we brought our parents and grandparents into the room, in thought. The opportunities and privileges that I’ve experienced in life have come at the expense of the struggle and sacrifices of these people. When the facilitator spoke about her father and hunger it was hard to hold in my emotions. My dad is the youngest of about 7 siblings, we aren’t too close to his family anymore. He was raised by his single mother who comes from an agricultural family background. Her mother was Yaqui from Arizona, but I don’t know her story. All I know about his upbringing is that they struggled. I often think about how different our upbringings are and why I know so little about his. I also only have one photo of our father as a kid.

I wish I knew more about his life, as do my brothers. But my dad never shares these things and we’ve learned not to ask. I have my B.A. and M.A. in history.

“I am fascinated with stories, and learning about the stories of others. Yet, its been the biggest struggle to learn about my own.”

My brother just had the first grandchild in our family and I hope that his experience draws on the strength of where he comes from. But I also hope he doesn’t need to work through struggles or generational traumas as we and those before us have. I hope that our generation can heal.

I think it’s even that my parents didn’t or haven’t shared their lives with us. I wish they did. I hope they do but I understand if they choose not to.

My mom is a refugee from El Salvador. She left during her teenage years and supported her family’s departure during the war.

I carry those stories with me. I honor their resilience. And I hope to learn more.


Storyteller Alexis Nicole Meza is an educator in the San Diego area from San Fernando, Ca.

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