The majority of the teachers here have followed a similar path. Most grow up and go to school and college in America, then choose the career path of teaching and find a job at a school. Spanish teacher Viviana Cruz had a different journey.
Cruz was born in Argentina where there was a military dictatorship, and she spent her childhood and college days spending time in America and Argentina, where the experiences she faced help shaped the person she is today. “I was born in Argentina then I lived there for two years, and my family went back and forth many times for different reasons,” Cruz said.
Although there were some extreme political differences between America and Argentina, when Cruz was growing up, other aspects of her childhood were for the most part similar to people growing up in America. “Growing up in Argentina, the main difference at the time was political differences, but my life was not really that different because my parents were professionals and they did well, so life was pretty similar to how it was for most people in America,” Cruz said.
Although Cruz’s everyday life was not too different, the political differences in Argentina did cause some major differences in Cruz’s life. Living in a military dictatorship, Cruz knew of, and saw people who were captured. “We had a military dictatorship and surviving that was a matter of chance because the people that were persecuted were not necessarily people that had to be persecuted but they were for their political ideas,” Cruz said.
For Cruz, high school was an especially difficult time. People she knew and was close to were taken away from her life. “When I began high school there were 150 students and only five graduated. Probably 50 percent of those were captured, they would come to your home and they would just take you away. It happened to friends of mine,” Cruz said.
The dictatorship also had an effect on the choices Cruz had for college. There were benefits to going to college in Argentina as well, but the lack of choices of what to study was still a major negative. “Under the military dictatorship there were not many choices. If you were a student who liked to study certain things like psychology or things that had to do with a more complex speaking process, the military would take away those types of courses,” Cruz said.
After considering her options Cruz decided to go down the path of being a teacher. “I always like the idea of teaching, I would have liked to teach history but under the dictatorship I could not learn to teach that so I thought, well I can teach Spanish, so I came here and taught Spanish,” Cruz said.
Although Cruz had some tough experiences growing up, she has been able to learn by reflecting on them. “I think what is important to value is the freedom and democracy that we have here, and to be able to have choices,” Cruz said.