Curriculum and Instruction Graduate Student Ruby Olmanson

Ruby OlmansonMy passion for mentoring - especially fellow Latinos, comes from the sacrifices that my parents made so that my nine siblings and I could have a better future in the United States. Since 1966 when they contemplated the move from Reynosa, Tamps., Mexico to Houston, TX, they've had life-long friends - mentors, who because of their longer tenure in this country or their more developed English-language skills, apprenticed my parents into the United States culture, values, and practices. It was by no means easy, but they navigated this new world with the help of these friends. Through obstacles, failures, successes - their mentors were by their side to offer advice, laughter and warmth.

This is my third year as a mentor for Latinas at UT but my first as a mentor for IE. The IE Pre-Graduate School internship allowed for me to invite a Latina undergraduate studying bilingual/bicultural education to participate in a study researching thoughts on immigration/border crossings among Latino elementary students. As an immigrant and a daughter of immigrants respectively, my mentee and I found that our language, traditions and similar cultural experiences strengthened our relationship. We dialogued often in Freirian fashion in which we questioned our position within the dominant culture and shared our dreams for the future, always working our parents and community into the equation - for these are factors that are non-negotiable with many Latinas.

We accomplished our goals with the study, serving as authors on an article of our findings, but most importantly, we established a relationship guided by mutual respect and open communication. Just like my parents were apprenticed by their friends into a scary world that was oftentimes unwelcoming, my time with Tania has been an apprenticeship into the workings of the academy as well as into the dominant culture in general.

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