I am from Salinas, California. I am the daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico. I grew up in an area known for its agricultural industry. As a child growing up in East Salinas, those who lived and surrounded me were primarily farm laborers. I quickly came to identify with this community as my own. This was my normalized experience, and it’s been something that has never left me.
“Even though I no longer live in the neighborhood I grew up in or in East Salinas – which is largely associated as the “Mexican” side of town, the “poorer” side of town and that which is home to many immigrant farmworkers – I hold a strong connection to the place of my upbringing and childhood.”
When I decided to become a teacher, I did so having in mind the idea that I wanted to “go back” to my neighborhood to teach there.
Today, I am a college student who is in the first semester of a teacher education credential program. When I think of the reasons why I want to be a teacher, I feel there are not enough words. As a future maestra, I have a strong inclination toward critical pedagogy, culturally responsive teaching and creating a socioeconomically supportive classroom space for students; however, I don’t necessarily feel that public schools, teacher preparation programs and U.S. education necessarily prioritize that which for me are the most critical aspects of education, especially when working in predominantly schools of color. Due to this reason, I see it as my responsibility to constantly seek support in this area that will allow me to better be a social justice educator.
Storyteller Mariela is a first semester credential program student at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB), born and raised in Salinas, Xicana feminist.