Darsy Amaya is “all of it:” an immigrant, single mother, interpreter, entrepreneur, and artist. Seeking greater economic opportunity in the United States, Amaya’s mother moved her young family from Honduras to New York City when Amaya was only thirteen. Identifying as both an immigrant and an American helps Amaya serve as a cultural bridge for the Latinx community in her work as an interpreter and artist here in Columbus.
A single mother, Amaya moved her family from New York to Pataskala, Ohio – drawn to the Columbus area’s family-friendly landscape and promising school system. She first connected with Columbus’s Latino community while hosting the Tierra Media (a small broadcast station that provides content to Telemundo) program Tocando Fondo. She now works at Nationwide Children’s Hospital where she currently serves as a medical Spanish-language interpreter.
Working at the hospital, Amaya is constantly confronted with issues of life and death. To cope with daily encounters with loss, Amaya found solace in emotional healing healing and now serves as a reiki master and polarity practitioner. She’s also turning her knowledge of these techniques into art, creating jewelry that incorporates her knowledge of holistic healing. She’s started selling this jewelry through White Canvas Design Studio, currently based out of 400 West Rich. Amaya is also starting initiatives to help other artists with the marketing and branding of their products. She also is involved with spearheading various community networking events, and the Latina Mentoring Academy. Listen to our conversation below for more about Amaya’s life and work:
From Honduras to New York, NY to Columbus, OH:
🎧 Listen (3:43)
“With all the migratory changes that are happening right now, I think that there’s a difference between not only cultures or religions – although we are Latinos we all have also different levels of education and also economic status. So those who are high-class and middle-class most of the time don’t come to the states… There’s no reason to come to the states if you have an education and ways to survive, or live or practice back home. My mom did face a lot of difficulties when it came down to the economy, and that’s what forced her to come to the states. So when she brought me here, I didn’t want to come here.”
Coping with feelings of loss through art:
🎧 Listen (2:21)
“Working as an interpreter at a children’s hospital, I did face a lot of struggles with life and death… At some point, it started to take a toll on me… I had just lost the relationship with my kid’s father and then [was facing] constant death at the hospital. So that was taking me to a very numbing stage… I found those modalities [Reiki] to be my way out of that numbing stage of living just to live. So I’ve been a Reiki master and polarity practitioner for over ten years… It was really to help me… understand why kids are sick and why kids don’t make it and why there’s so many struggles in the community.”
Breaking cultural barriers as an interpreter:
🎧 Listen (2:04)
“I feel like the cultural differences in the medical field interfere with the care of the patients. So a lot of [Latino] patients still practice home remedies, which is very related to holistic healing. Most families don’t talk about the treatment at home, but they don’t know that that can effect the diagnosis for better treatments… Some people think that interpreters are just there to just interpret word for word, but we’re also there to be a cultural bridge…”
Being “all of it:”
🎧 Listen (2:58)
“I’ve been middle class back home to having nothing coming here and trying to make it with my mom and as a single mom… I’m all of it, you know, I’m an immigrant, I’m a Latina, I’m a woman, I’m a single mom… I carry all of these stereotypes with me. And I think I’m ok with that, I don’t fight it. I think that that’s what makes me different. A lot of people they fight it and they don’t want to be labeled that and they just want to be the exceptional Latino who’s succeeded. I’m not really worried about that. I think that failure it’s what makes you stronger and makes you who you are.”
“I can go to a Michoacana and be with my community and be ok with that – or I could be at a fancy gallery exhibit with CEOs from The Limited – or I can just be with leaders in the community at a professional event. I think that’s the advantage of being thirteen, coming from Honduras and being raised in the United States. I feel blessed because I get it, I get both: I get the immigrant and American way.”