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Playlist: 'Historias'

Compiled By: StoryCorps

Sylvia Mendez (L) talks to her sister Sandra Mendez Duran (R). <a href="http://www.prx.org/pieces/46621-storycorps-historias-sylvia-mendez-and-sandra-men">Listen Here</a>. Credit:
Sylvia Mendez (L) talks to her sister Sandra Mendez Duran (R). Listen Here.

StoryCorps' collection of Latino stories from all across the country.

StoryCorps Historias: Noe Rueda and Alex Fernandez

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:30

19-year-old Noe Rueda (R) talks to his high school economics teacher, Alex Fernandez (L), about growing up poor in Chicago.

Rueda_small 19-year-old Noe Rueda grew up the eldest of four siblings on Chicago’s West Side.

Here he tells his high school economics teacher, Alex Fernandez, how he started his own business at the age of eight to help his single mother get by.

StoryCorps Historias: Ruben and Rachel Salazar

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:22

Rachel Salazar and her husband, Ruben, remember how their romance started with a typo.

Salazarr_small In 2007,  Rachel Salazar lived in Thailand and Ruben Salazar in Texas. Despite being so far away, their email addresses were very close.

Here, Rachel and Ruben remember how a typo brought them together.

StoryCorps NTI: Kate Musick and Harleé Patrick, Jose Catalan and Carlos Vizcarra

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:50

Two stories about teachers who went beyond the classroom to help their kids.

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For students who are struggling, sometimes the difference between success and failure can start when a teacher takes the time to listen.

In these two stories from our National Teacher’s Initiative, teachers go beyond the classroom to help their kids.

In 2004, Kate Musick was teaching third grade at T.C. Walker Elementary school in Gloucester, Virginia. When Harleé Patrick walked into the room, Musick saw a troubled child.

Harleé is now a teenager, and the two came to StoryCorps to talk about how she made it through that year.

The second story comes from Los Angeles, where 19-year-old Jose Catalan, who is studying to become a math teacher, sat down with his former high school teacher Carlos Vizcarra to talk about how they became friends.

StoryCorps: José Rodriguez and Charles Zelinsky

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:57

José Rodriguez tells his former coach Charles Zelinsky how he got involved in the Special Olympics.

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When he was a teenager, José Rodriguez was kicked out of public school.

He was diagnosed with a learning disability and sent to a school for students with special needs.

This qualified him to participate in the New Jersey Special Olympics -- any child or adult with an intellectual disability can take part.

At StoryCorps, José told his former coach Charles Zelinsky what his life was like before he found the games.

José is now a Special Olympics basketball coach -- and will be coaching during the 2012 New Jersey Summer Games.

StoryCorps Historias: Ricardo Ramirez

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:57

Bishop Ricardo Ramirez remembers his grandmother Francisca "Panchita" Espitia.

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On a fall day in 1981, Ricardo Ramirez accepted an offer to become a bishop in San Antonio, Texas.

At StoryCorps, he remembered the dozens of phone calls he made that day.

One of the first was to his grandmother Panchita Espitia.

StoryCorps: Antero Garcia and Roger Alvarez

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:00

Antero Garcia (R) talks to his former student Roger Alvarez (L) who dropped out...

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Antero Garcia (R) taught Roger Alvarez (L) in his 9th grade English class at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles.

That year, the school’s graduation rate was just 42 percent, and Roger was one of the students who didn’t make it through his senior year.

Roger dropped out in 2007 and hadn’t seen his former teacher until the two of them sat down together at StoryCorps.

When they recorded this interview, Roger was working the night shift at a loading dock, and he said he hopes to get his GED one day. Antero Garcia is now an Assistant Professor of English at Colorado State University. 

StoryCorps: Carlos Rocha

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:42

Carlos Rocha, an inmate at Danville Correctional Center in Illinois, talks about a murder he committed in 1998.

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When StoryCorps visited Danville Correctional Center in Illinois, one of the inmates who told his story was Carlos Rocha.

Carlos grew up in Chicago, and, like his brothers, joined a gang. In 1998, he was arrested for weapons possession. Just before he was to be released on bond, Carlos got into a fight with another inmate and killed him. He was sentenced to 24 years behind bars.

StoryCorps: Tina Vasquez and Sonia Vasquez

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:59

Tina Vasquez tells her mother, Sonia Vasquez, about what it was like to grow up...

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Tina Vasquez grew up just outside of New York City in the 1990s.

Her mother, Sonia, raised her with little help, and money was often tight for their family.

At StoryCorps, Sonia told Tina about how she’d take on several jobs to pay the bills.

StoryCorps: Yvette Benavidez Garcia and Rene Garcia

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:18

Yvette Benavidez Garcia and her husband, Rene, remember her father, Army Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez, a Medal of Honor recipient.

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In 1981 Army Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez, a Green Beret, received the Medal of Honor for his service during the Vietnam War.

On his first tour there, he was severely injured by a land mine and told that he’d never walk again. After a year of rehabilitation, he walked out of the hospital and eventually returned to Vietnam for a second tour.

That’s when he spearheaded a daring rescue, saving the lives of eight fellow soldiers. In the process his jaw was broken and he was shot 37 times.

At StoryCorps, his daughter Yvette Benavidez Garcia and her husband, Rene, remember the aftermath of the battle.

StoryCorps 9/11: Isaac Feliciano

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:39

Isaac Feliciano, a longtime worker at Brooklyn's historic Green-Wood Cemetery, remembers being at his job on September 11, 2001, when his wife, Rosa Maria Feliciano, was killed while working in the World Trade Center.

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Isaac Feliciano has been working at Brooklyn’s historic Green-Wood cemetery for 21 years. He has done many jobs there and is currently a field foreman, supervising landscape and maintenance workers on the grounds.

On September 11, 2001 he dropped his wife off at the subway so she could get to her job at Marsh & McLennan in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. He then headed to work at Green-Wood.

StoryCorps Historias: Noramay Cadena and Chassitty Saldana

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:44

Noramay Cadena, a mechanical engineer with several degrees from MIT, tells her teenage daughter, Chassitty Saldana, about the summer her parents took her to work with them at a factory in Los Angeles.

Cadenanpr_small Noramay Cadena is a mechanical engineer with several degrees from MIT.

Her family came to the U.S. from Mexico. They settled in Los Angeles where her parents worked in factories.

Noramay came to StoryCorps with her teenage daughter, Chassitty Saldana, to remember one summer when, as a teenager, her parents brought her to work. 

StoryCorps Legacy: Eva Vega-Olds and Leonardo Vega

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:24

After Leonardo Vega was diagnosed with cancer, his daughter, Eva Vega-Olds, used the StoryCorps app to record her father days before he passed.

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In November 2015, Leonardo Vega was diagnosed with liver and lung cancer.
 
After multiple unsuccessful rounds of chemotherapy, he left the hospital and returned to his New Jersey home to spend his remaining days receiving hospice care while surrounded by his family. His eldest daughter, Eva Vega-Olds, decided to use the StoryCorps app to capture some of her father’s memories and preserve the sound of his voice.
 
During their time together, Leonardo was bedridden and hooked up to an oxygen tank. Finding the strength to answer questions was difficult, so Eva also took the opportunity to tell her father how much he has meant to her.
 
This recording turned out to be the last conversation they ever had together. Leonardo died days later on January 29, 2016, at the age of 73. Soon after, Eva came to StoryCorps to remember a hardworking man with a great sense of humor who loved his family.

StoryCorps: Vito de la Cruz and Maria Sefchick-Del Paso

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:58

Civil rights lawyer Vito de la Cruz grew up in a family of migrant farmworkers. He describes his childhood and the loving aunt who raised him.

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Vito de la Cruz’s parents were already separated when he was born, and when he was 6 months old, his father left him in the care of his 19-year-old aunt, Iris de la Cruz, a woman he called Nena.

Vito’s extended family traveled the migrant trail, finding work on farms across the United States. At 5 years old, Vito joined them in the fields. He remembers the excitement of traveling in the summers with his aunts, uncles, and grandmother from tomato fields in South Texas, to cherry orchards in Ohio, and sugar beet farms in North Dakota. During the days, they worked side-by-side, and in the evenings, they gathered together for dinner.

But their family’s migrant lifestyle was not easy; it was “equal parts hardship and poverty.” When he was 13, Border Patrol agents raided the farm where Vito and his family were working and rounded up undocumented workers. Witnessing workers’ fear of law enforcement struck a “profound chord in his being” and changed the course of his life.

Vito had always excelled in school, with Nena’s encouragement. She, herself, was the first person in the de la Cruz family to graduate high school, and she later went on to college. Following Nena’s example, Vito left South Texas for Yale University and then went on to attend law school at the University of California, Berkeley.

After law school, Vito began volunteering with the United Farm Workers union and focused the early part of his legal career on immigrant and farmworker rights. Years later, he became a federal public defender in Nevada before moving to Bellevue, Washington, where he continues to practice civil rights law.

Vito came to StoryCorps with his wife, Maria Sefchick-Del Paso, to remember how his childhood and his loving Nena shaped his future.

Vito’s story is one of 53 work stories featured in our new book, Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Worknow available in bookstores.

StoryCorps: Chris López and Gabe López

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:25

Gabe López, assigned female at birth, always felt like he was a boy. He came to StoryCorps with his mom to talk about growing up transgender.

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Chris López always knew there was something different about her youngest child Gabe. Assigned female at birth, Gabe always felt like he was a boy.

Gabe was always more comfortable in clothes traditionally worn by little boys (cargo pants and superhero shirts), but often switched back and forth between those and outfits often worn by little girls. Just after his seventh birthday, he convinced his parents to let him cut off his long hair and get a Mohawk—a haircut he had been wanting for years. This is also about the time that Gabe started dressing only as a boy and answering exclusively to “he” and not “she.”

At first, Chris was concerned that Gabe, being so young, might change his mind. She was scared of how people would treat him as he transitioned. But after seeing how Gabe responded to the changes in his hair and clothing, she felt confident that he had made the right decision.

Last summer, their family attended a camp for transgender, gender creative, and gender non-conforming youth in Tucson, Arizona. There, Gabe met similar kids and made three new best friends—Luke, Cooper, and Brock (who among other things taught Gabe how to pee standing up).

Gabe, who will soon be nine years old, has been attending the same school since kindergarten, and this past August when he started third grade, for the first time, he began having others refer to him by his preferred gender pronouns—”he” and “him.”

Gabe and his mother (pictured in the player above) recently came to the StoryCorps MobileBooth to talk about what it’s been like for him to be transgender, and his fears about the future.

StoryCorps: Francisco and Frankie Preciado

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:06

Frankie Preciado talks with his father, Francisco, a groundskeeper at Stanford University, about the time they shared together on campus.

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When Francisco Preciado was six years old, his family moved from Mexico to the California. They entered the United States through the Bracero program, which, starting in 1942 and lasting more than 20 years, allowed Mexican workers to come to the U.S. to take temporary agricultural jobs.

At the time, Francisco spoke only Spanish, but he quickly learned English with the help of his teachers. This led him to dream of one day becoming a teacher himself, but financial demands and the need to support his family forced him to drop out of school and begin working full-time.

In the early 1980s, he took a job as a groundskeeper at Stanford University and was often accompanied to the college by his young son Frankie. Francisco hoped that one day Frankie would become a student at Stanford, and his dream came true with Frankie graduating from the university in 2007 with degrees in political science and Chicano(a) Studies.

Now 31 years old, Frankie is the executive director of the union that represents Stanford’s service and technical workers, and whose membership also includes his father.

Francisco and Frankie came to StoryCorps to talk about their relationship and their time together at Stanford—one as a maintenance man, the other as a student.

StoryCorps Historias: Vanessa Silva-Welch and Arnaldo Silva

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:11

Arnaldo Silva and his daughter, Vanessa, have battled breast cancer together. At StoryCorps they discuss their past and current fights with the disease.

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Ten years ago, Arnaldo Silva noticed a lump on his chest. After going to a doctor and getting a mammogram, he learned that he had breast cancer.
 
Breast cancer in men is rare (according to the National Institutes of Health, male breast cancer accounts for less than one percent of all breast cancer diagnosis worldwide), but Arnaldo’s diagnosis and the discovery that he carried a genetic predisposition to cancer led other members of his family to get tested as well. Soon after, his daughter, Vanessa Silva-Welch, learned that she too had breast cancer.
 
During their treatments, Arnaldo and Vanessa became each other’s support systems as they went through chemotherapy and fought cancer together. And while Arnaldo is now cancer free, four months ago Vanessa received a new breast cancer diagnosis and once again began treatment.
 
At StoryCorps, they discuss their battles with cancer and Arnaldo’s concern that his children will remember him as the one who passed this hereditary disease on to them.
 
Originally aired July 29, 2016 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps: Alicia Beltrán-Castañeda and Serena Castañeda

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:49

A mother tells her daughter about growing up in California in the late 1960s, and the lesson learned after her mother gave her beloved bed away.

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Alicia Beltrán-Castañeda grew up in Salinas, California, in the late 1960s. Her mother, Beatriz Béltran, was an immigrant from Mexico, and her father, Manuel, worked both as a foreman at a food packing plant and as an overseer of migrant farm workers.

Their family of seven lived in a small trailer, but by working multiple jobs, Manuel was able to save enough money to buy a plot of land on which he built a house. Alicia vividly recalls sitting on a 1950s metal stool in their living room, watching her father paint some of the walls goldenrod, and others Pepto-Bismol pink.

Manuel died when Alicia was 13, leaving their mother to raise the children alone.

Beatriz began working for the Salinas City Elementary School District as a bilingual liaison for Spanish-speaking families and the administration, and later became a coordinator for migrant worker families. Through her job, she saw the poverty many migrant families lived in.

Alicia was not as familiar with the lives of migrant farmworkers until she came home one day to find that her bed was missing--she was furious. With all of her older siblings away at college, Alicia had finally gotten her own room, and she loved her bed, which had a pink cover and lace dust ruffle. When she confronted her mother, Beatriz explained that she had given the bed to a family that had recently arrived in California from Mexico, and Alicia remembers telling her mother that she did not understanding why that was her problem. Without explanation, Beatriz told her to fill shopping bags with canned food from their pantry.

Together they drove to a house where Alicia’s bed now was, a one-room shack with a dirt floor like the ones occupied by so many other migrant worker families. There they met a woman who was laying on Alicia’s bed with her newborn baby surrounded by her four other children.

At StoryCorps, Alicia told her own daughter, Serena, 13, how meaningful that experience was for her.

Originally aired November 18, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps: Francisco and Kaya Ortega

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:43

A father tells his daughter about growing up in Tijuana, Mexico, after his parents left to find work in the U.S., and the day he was reunited with them.

Ortegafnpr_small When he was a young boy, Francisco Ortega’s parents left him and his siblings in Mexico and moved to the U.S. to find work. He did not reunite with them for three and a half years, joining them in Los Angeles in 1978 when he was 9 years old. At StoryCorps he talks with his daughter Kaya about his time in Tijuana, and the day he left.

StoryCorps: George Rincon and Yolanda Reyes

From StoryCorps | 04:23

At the beginning of the Iraq War, nearly 40,000 members of the United States military were not citizens. Army Private First Class Diego Rincon was one of them. As a child, he had immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia with his family. He he always known he wanted to join the military, and at 19, he enlisted in the Army. Diego was deployed to Iraq in March 2003, at the beginning of the war. Just 11 days in, he was killed by a suicide bomber. Diego received U.S. citizenship on April 10, 2003--the day of his funeral. His parents, George Rincon and Yolanda Reyes, came to StoryCorps to remember him.

Img_1408_small At the beginning of the Iraq War, nearly 40,000 members of the United States military were not citizens. Army Private First Class Diego Rincon was one of them. As a child, he had immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia with his family. He he always known he wanted to join the military, and at 19, he enlisted in the Army. Diego was deployed to Iraq in March 2003, at the beginning of the war. Just 11 days in, he was killed by a suicide bomber. Diego received U.S. citizenship on April 10, 2003--the day of his funeral. His parents, George Rincon and Yolanda Reyes, came to StoryCorps to remember him.

StoryCorps: Darrow Brown and Juan Calvo

From StoryCorps | 02:52

Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology.

In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents.

Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

Calvonpr_small Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology. In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents. Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

StoryCorps: Emily Addison

From StoryCorps | 03:54

On June 12, 2016 a lone gunman killed 49 people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.Among those killed was Deonka Drayton. She was 32.

Deonka left behind a young son and her co-parent, Emily Addison. At StoryCorps, Emily sat down to remember her.

There were hundreds of people at Pulse the night of the shooting, and some were able to escape in time.

Addison3_small On June 12, 2016 a lone gunman killed 49 people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.Among those killed was Deonka Drayton. She was 32. Deonka left behind a young son and her co-parent, Emily Addison. At StoryCorps, Emily sat down to remember her. There were hundreds of people at Pulse the night of the shooting, and some were able to escape in time.

StoryCorps: Jessi Silva and Maggie Marquez

From StoryCorps | 02:40

Maggie Marquez and Jessi Silva grew up in the desert town of Marfa, Texas in the 1950s. At the time, segregation of Latino and white students was not legal. However, Marfa’s school system — like many others in the Southwest — practiced de facto segregation, in which Latino and white children attended different schools.

In Marfa, Latino children attended the Blackwell School. Many of the students spoke Spanish as their first language.

Both Maggie and Jessi were students at Blackwell. They came to StoryCorps to remember the day their school banned students from speaking Spanish in a ceremony called the “burial of Mr. Spanish.”

In 2007, a group of Blackwell alumni, including Maggie and Jessi, returned to the school grounds, where they buried a Spanish dictionary and dug it up in a symbolic ceremony to “unearth Mr. Spanish.”

In recent years, a local organization, the Blackwell School Alliance — in partnership with Marfa Public Radio — is collecting oral histories featuring the voices of former students.

Marquezsquare_small Maggie Marquez and Jessi Silva grew up in the desert town of Marfa, Texas in the 1950s. At the time, segregation of Latino and white students was not legal. However, Marfa’s school system — like many others in the Southwest — practiced de facto segregation, in which Latino and white children attended different schools. In Marfa, Latino children attended the Blackwell School. Many of the students spoke Spanish as their first language. Both Maggie and Jessi were students at Blackwell. They came to StoryCorps to remember the day their school banned students from speaking Spanish in a ceremony called the “burial of Mr. Spanish.” In 2007, a group of Blackwell alumni, including Maggie and Jessi, returned to the school grounds, where they buried a Spanish dictionary and dug it up in a symbolic ceremony to “unearth Mr. Spanish.” In recent years, a local organization, the Blackwell School Alliance — in partnership with Marfa Public Radio — is collecting oral histories featuring the voices of former students.