I am half Mexican, but I don't have a relationship with my birth father who is where my Mexican heritage comes from. So that cultural aspect of my identity is not really at play in my life because I wasn't exposed to it.
Before I studied in Mexico, everyone was like, "This is going to be great for you, going to Mexico." They're like, "I feel like you're on the precipice of something really exciting. I think you're going to feel more comfortable with your Mexican identity. Everything's going to click."
And then it was interesting, being in Mexico with all of my peers, because we would go out and I would get approached by locals speaking Spanish. I'm not fluent in Spanish by any means! It was one of the first times I had to face that identity head on.
I noticed people treating me like someone from there which I think I felt uncomfortable with at the beginning, but then more comfortable with by the end. And I'm not entirely sure still if that was me being more comfortable with my identity or just me being more comfortable in Oaxaca, because I'd been there for a while.
And so, I left [Mexico] with this feeling of, I think I just exist in a gray space. And now I'm just more comfortable with the fact that that is my Mexican identity. It is this gray space.
--Zoe Ortiz, Student, Business and Latin American Studies