Please say a little bit about yourself and what you do for a living.
I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at Pitt. I’m currently working on my dissertation on public opinion and trade policy in Latin America. Now that I’ve finished my coursework, I spend my days collecting and analyzing survey data and government documents, everything for my thesis. In my dissertation, I am trying to find when policymakers are more likely to cater to certain types of voters when they make trade policy, when they regulate international commerce and make related policies concerning globalization.
How important in your identity is being Latino?
My Latino identity has kind of evolved over time, especially since I came to the United States. Before coming to live here, in my home country of Argentina, I didn’t have a strong feeling of belonging to the Latino community as such. Due to my location, my upbringing, maybe the fact that we Argentines are very far south in the continent, we do not usually have a strong sense of attachment, or a lot in common with fellow Latin Americans. But that changed after I came to study at Pitt. I think that I’ve established strong bonds with members of the Latino community here, especially through the university and through CLAS in particular. So my identity as a Latino involves things such as offering me new friendships, allowing me to maintain my heritage in my daily life, and things like that.
Is there something that you particularly value of your nationality, or of being Latino?
Yes. First and foremost, the way that Latinos communicate with each other is especially important to me. It goes beyond our shared language. I’d say it has more to do with affection and honesty, and our shared understanding. I also value the fact that we are hard-working people, that we try to work hard and excel in everything that we do.
Have you ever been treated differently because of being Latino?
I think people in Pittsburgh are very nice and welcoming. But, I’ve noticed that there are always some folks, even here in the city, or in other parts of the state, that are maybe not that open to foreigners. Especially to migrants, students, people of color with accents. So, I would say that, on the more innocent side, I have experienced that some locals are sometimes amazed when they hear me speaking in Spanish and when they realize that I am a Latino actually. This has been the case especially with college students, but even with, like, Uber drivers. I’ve been told that they didn’t expect me to be a foreigner and that they are shocked, and I think that maybe just has to do with my skin color.
Then there have been some perhaps nastier, uglier situations. But these have been very few. For instance, shortly after the 2016 election, I remember one instance in which an elderly woman on the bus was angry, and she showed this anger towards me and a friend from the university with whom I was having a conversation in Spanish. So that would definitely be on the bad side of things. This is not very common, but there have been episodes like this where people have not been as welcoming as I would have desired.