Luis Fernando Macías not only co-edits ¿Qué Pasa Ohio State? Magazine with Marie Lerma, he is also a doctoral candidate in Ohio State’s Department of Teaching and Learning’s Multicultural and Equity Studies in Education. His lifelong interests in education and immigrant rights are present in his dissertation work which analyzes the tuition equity movement in Ohio led by diverse youth and young adults raised in the state, but with uncertain immigration status.
Macías moved to El Paso, Texas with his family from Guadalajara, Mexico when he was around six-years-old. His mother pushed for the move, as she wanted each of her children to get a formal education. El Paso, Texas is a border-town, what Macías sees as an interesting amalgamation of Mexico and the United States where there are almost as many radio and TV stations in Spanish as in English.
In college, Macías majored in Spanish and minored in translation studies. He entered the Peace Corps after graduating, teaching English in Kazakhstan. The recession hit just as Macías returned from Kazakhstan in 2008. In the absence of many teaching jobs, he found work at a nonprofit organization supporting immigrant rights. The work there fostered Macías’ passions for education and immigrant rights. To further pursue the connection between his passions, he enrolled in a Master’s program for former Peace Corps members at Bowling Green State University. This program brought him to Ohio, and now he is completing his doctoral degree at Ohio State University. Listen more to Macías amazing journey for this week’s ¡Dímelo, Columbus!:
🎧 Listen (3:56)
“My name is Luis Fernando Macías… My mom calls me Fernando, ‘Nando… It’s a funny story about how I became ‘Luis.’ When I was in school, my second grade teacher found it easier to say ‘Luis’ because her father’s name was Luis… Here in Ohio, I would introduce myself as Luis Fernando and people would just give me a bit of a look. I was like ‘Oh it’s that hard ‘r’ isn’t it?…’ So I just go as ‘Luis.'”
“I can tell you my first word in English, it’s almost prophetic now… I was in the school cafeteria my very first day in school, I wanted to fit in, I wanted to be cool. So I saw that one of my classmates was flicking his fork off of the table. He got a big laugh so I was like, ‘Oh, let me do that too!’ So then, I positioned my fork to do the same. And as I was about to hit it, I hear students going, ‘Teacher, teacher, teacher!’ And I thought that meant like, ‘go for it!’ So I went ahead and flung the fork and it hit the vice principal… so that was my very first word in English, ‘Teacher.'”
Education for immigrant children left behind:
🎧 Listen (3:49)
“I noticed that there were two emerging passions always latent inside of me: education and immigrant rights. As an immigrant myself, there’s the experiential knowledge of growing up in a border town where there’s a heavy border patrol presence and you have friends and family who are always at risk for family separation because of constant surveillance.”
“When I was working in El Paso (Texas)… every time I had a one-on-one interview with the immigrants and the people who were detained – when they were parents, the number one question asked was, ‘What’s going to happen to my child’s education if I’m deported?’… When I focused on my Master’s dissertation, I wanted to explore this question – what does happen to children who are left behind?”
“In the Midwest and Ohio in particular, you had a lot of factories shutting down or moving to non-unionized labor – who were actively recruiting immigrant undocumented labor. Not to equate Latinidad with immigrant with undocumented. They’re three separate things, but they overlap. What I notice is there’s a pull to have certain people come in and provide their labor to make existence more convenient. But when you’re bringing people you’re bringing families, you’re bringing next generations.”
Identity that connects to heritage and common experience:
🎧 Listen (2:02)
“I can have a conversation with somebody from Ecuador, or from Puerto Rico, or a Nuyorican, or a Cuban American and we have something in common. So that’s why I identify as Latino. There’s something there… I don’t measure who’s more or who’s less… But, there’s something there that’s undeniable.”
Unless otherwise noted, all photos and text are copyrighted to Leticia Wiggins. Music for introduction & interlude by The Original Soundtrack (thanks, guys!).