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Violeta and her cousin in Mexico.

I was never very traditional, as far as gender roles go. Even when I lived in Guanajuato I was always trying to get out of the box in which I was placed. I don’t know why I felt the need to rebel, but moving to America gave me the opportunity to do so more freely. My parents didn’t change their rules or way of thinking, but society permitted me to break out of my box. It’s more acceptable to move out of your parents’ house without being married in America but back home that was frowned upon. If you are not married you stay in your house with your parents and that’s it.

My lifestyle hasn’t fully changed since moving to the United States. There are some things that I changed and others that I don’t think I could change even if I wanted to. When I was living in Mexico you had to respect your father and mother no matter what they did to you. No matter how mean they were to you, you respect them and love them. I maintained that way of thinking. Even though my father and I don’t get along, and he has done some really bad things, I still feel the same kind of respect. I’m still grateful to him for bringing us to the United States. I know that he probably regrets bringing us here and if he had the opportunity to do things differently, would keep us in Mexico, but I am grateful.

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Violeta and her best friend at ISU graduation.

At the same time, I’m not willing to allow others to walk all over me. As a female in Mexico, especially from the area where I come from, you have no voice, no vote. When you are single, your father makes the decisions for you, or your oldest brother makes the decisions for you. You don’t get to decide for yourself. When you get married you still don’t get to decide for yourself, your husband decides for you. But now, I make my own decisions and if my father doesn’t like it then he can deal with it and the same goes for my husband. If he doesn’t like it, he just has to deal with it—but he’s very open minded, thankfully.

I still maintain some of the cultural traditions from Mexico. For example, Mother’s Day in the United States is the second Sunday of May, so it’s always on a Sunday. In Mexico it’s always on May 10th, so my husband and I celebrate it on May 10th. On Christmas we still do the traditional meals that we would do in Mexico. We have tamales, and punch and other traditional foods. We do the same for New Year’s too. On the other hand, we also celebrate the Fourth of July and have the typical American food and celebration.

Being Bilingual