BY KIARA QUINTANAR
The initial feelings on a reflection with less than three weeks since my flight to opening retreat and not even a full week into my placement, were that it is just the beginning. What can I possibly have to share at this point? I laugh at myself as I meta-reflect on how reflective of a person I am. That I have been thinking things through and turning them in my head since I stepped onto the airplane.
My thoughts are everywhere but I’ve decided that that is okay. Normal, even for such a big transition.To start, I am a San Francisco Bay Area girl at heart. It is where I grew up and went to school. It is such a hard place to leave, and I have been getting the question, why would someone leave such a place? Somewhere where everyone hopes to go to?
My first response; how can one know if where they are from is where they are meant to be if they never leave? How can one be so sure of a place if they don’t know or try anywhere else? Before I continue, I want to recognize what an extraordinary privilege it is that I can voluntarily decide to pack up and move. I’m a first generation college graduate. I understand why my parents live in the city they were born in and know they are happy. Here are my feelings 10 days into living in El Paso, Texas: I miss bodies of water! and fog, and of course, my family (Mami- I promise I do). BUT wow, I love the lack of traffic, I have fallen for the Franklin Mountains that are visible from my doorstep, and the cost of living that gives me hope that I can pursue what I love without having to live paycheck to paycheck.
The next answer is cliche; I truly believe one finds and understands oneself best when away from everything and everyone they are familiar with. Growth comes from being uncomfortable. I was most happy with who I was when abroad for a semester in Granada, Spain. I am excited for the exploration of Kiara this year. Some particular examples are: how do some of my identities such as Mexican-American, queer, and young woman of color look like in Texas? Or in a border city? I can’t report just yet on these, but all I can say is, yes to the Spanglish that is happening at my placement!
Finally, my last but biggest push for the move; I want to understand my country. I want to understand it through the people, of course. I want to understand it urgently since the election of Donald Trump. Yes, I am asking this question as a radical feminist who grew up in the progressive and blue state of California. I am equally asking this question as someone who really enjoys understanding our world sociologically and as someone who strives to be an open minded and understanding person. This is an intention for the year. It very well may be the question that guides me for the rest of my life- personally, academically, and/or professionally. For now, I can say that I am so grateful I found Loretto and that this community is part of my process of figuring out these questions.
Kiara Quintanar (she/her) is from the San Francisco Bay Area and is eager and excited to move to El Paso and experience a different area of the country. She loves to read, create art, explore and eat! She initially wanted to be an elementary school teacher but has decided to explore the different ways to be a teacher (and learner) outside of the classroom. She is passionate about social justice issues such as immigration, lgbtq+, gender equity but also the intersection of identities and experiences.
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.