Finding hope in a new land

  • Farmworker's Daughter: Growing Up Mexican in America

 

Mexican-born author Rose Castillo Guilbault first saw America from the window of a Greyhound bus. The 5-year-old sat next to her divorced mother, Maria Luisa, who had taken a distant cousin’s advice to heart: Head to El Norte. "Get out of this cesspool. It will pull you down and drown you. You’re still young. Start a new life in a new country."

The little girl from the Sonoran Desert is now a woman in her 50s, who has earned four college degrees, including an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University. Guilbault’s memoir is a brief but stirring account of adjusting to a new culture, a new climate and eventually, a new stepfather. She tells her hopeful story honestly, through a child’s eyes, recalling the first awkward day at an American school, as well as the first time she toiled alongside her mother in the endless rows of garlic: "By the end of the day my shoulders felt as if someone had stuck a hot iron between them." She was 11 years old at the time.

California’s Salinas Valley certainly afforded more opportunities for both Guilbault and her mother, but each Christmas they returned to their roots in Mexico. Those visits "filled the emptiness created by my psychological isolation in American culture and the physical isolation that came from living on a remote farm." But as with immigrants before and after her, the sense of isolation turned into assimilation; before long she was just another California teenager, "dragging Main" and brushing her long black hair until it was "as straight as Cher’s."

Farmworker’s Daughter ends with Guilbault’s last day of manual labor working in a packing shed. She is about to begin classes at a university. The "conveyor belt ladies" hug her and say, " ‘Don’t come back. Make us proud, hija.’ " And she has.

High Country News Classifieds
  • MEMBERSHIP MANAGER
    For more information visit www. wyofile.com/careers/
  • THRIVING LOCAL HEALTH FOOD STORE FOR SALE
    Turn-key business opportunity. Successful well established business with room to grow. Excellent highway visibility.
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    For more information, visit www.wyofile.com/careers/
  • SONORAN INSTITUTE, CEO
    Chief Executive Officer Tucson, Arizona ABOUT SONORAN INSTITUTE Since 1990, the Sonoran Institute has brought together diverse interests to successfully forge effective and enduring conservation...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a high-impact, nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 27-year legacy using...
  • PROJECT MANAGER
    Position Summary Join our Team at the New Mexico Land Conservancy! We're seeking a Project Manager who will work to protect land and water across...
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING
    High Country News seeks a Director of Product and Marketing to join our senior team during an exciting chapter of innovation and growth. This individual...
  • WILDLIFE HAVEN
    Beautiful acreage with Teton Creek flowing through it. Springs and ponds, lots of trees, moose and deer. Property has barn. Easy access. approx. 33 acres.
  • ARIZONA CONSERVATION CORPS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Arizona Conservation Corps is seeking a Program Director in Flagstaff or Tucson
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...