Interview by Juan García Oyervides
Transcription and response by Jordan Ryan Mandariaga
My name is Ashly Villa Ortega and I am a Latina from Denver I grew up in the north side of Denver when I was really young and then I moved over to Montbello and then shortly after to Green Valley Ranch. Those are really important parts of my identity because they shaped me into who I am today -all three of those places that I grew up in. And yeah, just being also a Latina really shaped how I see the world and the things that I’m passionate about and the things that I work towards.
I am a daughter, a granddaughter, an immigrant from Mexico from Chihuahua and I'm a friend. I'm an activist, and I’m a learner too. Those are the basis of what I would say who I am.
In this interview with Ashly Villa Ortega points out a couple ideas of how she wants to spread awareness through her type of activism and tell a story of how she links the global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. Through her college years, Ashly was involved in UMAS y MECHA, a Chicanx and Latinx group at the University of Colorado Boulder.
UMAS y MECHA’s (United Mexican American Students y Mecha) goal is to encourage respect, dignity, justice and equality for the Chicana/Chicano people.
Has the pandemic changed the way you communicate with your friends and family?
This pandemic has definitely shifted how I communicate with my family and also brought up things that we have to work towards together. I think it was maybe a month into being forced to quarantine my cousin passed away and so with that happening where we dealing with grieving but we were also still dealing with a pandemic so everything Like we would go out to the store, what we were bringing back especially living with two immunocompromised people here at home so getting them sick and potentially losing a lot of more family members I think that created a lot of tension and anxiety in my household we each deal with our grieving and our anxiety in a lot of different ways and I think that that is what we had to learn from together at the time we are forced to spend together being stuck at home. we learn how to allow each other to take up the space that we need respectively for each other like for me it’s through writing but for my mom for my dad and my brother like it’s all different. But then finding ways to still be with one another a bit challenging. This will help us in the long run and building deeper connections with each other.
It’s been difficult because we each want to be there for each other we have different ways of wanting to show each other like we have love languages of like what we live to give and to receive and I don’t think we fully understand them with each other and so the hard part for me especially the daughter is to set those boundaries there, when when I need them set up because you as it as a daughter of immigrants in the Mexican parents you don’t want to let your parents down and you want to make them happy as much as you can. But for me what’s been the most helpful throughout this whole thing is to make sure that I am setting those boundaries when I need to to make sure that I’m doing OK. Also to make sure things don’t get more tense and my anxiety doesn’t build up even more so those are some really been trying to do better at. And I have been I think helping me for the most part as much is they can, especially with being on quarantine and forced to like be in the household together all the time I think it was really important for me and it is still very important to me and my other family members to make sure we each have our boundaries and make sure we aren’t overstepping each other.
How would you describe the ways in which gender roles have impacted your experience staying at home?
I think it plays a huge role for, being the only daughter and the oldest too. So in a lot of ways I think that has forced me to take on a caretaker role. I feel in the position to be a caretaker and whereas for my brother for example, I think that. it’s a very different situation for him, in relation to my parents and other family members in the household. When my cousin passed away, a couple days later I had gotten my acceptance letter to law school. I just got accepted to two different law schools, but I didn’t really tell my parents right away because I knew we were still dealing with the grieving process, figuring out the funeral plans. Immediately I realized that no, I can’t bring that up. I had to go into this caretaker role and make sure that they have food and make sure they are eating, and making sure everyone is keeping their minds busy. Not sharing those important news came instinctively... and I didn’t realize that until long after after. Why didn’t I say anything at that point? It was because of that role I had to take up -if feelt like I had to. I've been making sure that everyone was OK before anything good can happen for me.
This project was very intriguing. I have learned a couple things from Ashly, like being creative and finding new ways to present ideas to people. It was cool to learn about her experiences during the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and her own form of activism.