September 23, 2022
Hello! I am Alicia Barajas. I was born in Fresno, California, and life as a first-generation Mexican-American has not been the easiest at times. I am number six of seven siblings and raising seven children was not easy for my immigrant parents. My parents are from Michoacán, Mexico, and I grew up in a traditional household where my father was pretty strict.
I was raised going to church every Sunday — Sundays were fun days. We would always have family and friends over and there was always something delicious cooking in the kitchen. As long as the moms were cooking, we kids were happy and stayed out of the way until the food was ready. Food and family are a huge part of our culture. In my family, we helped each other out by cooking together so everyone had enough to eat. For us kids, it was always a party. My favorite dish my mom makes is Enchiladas Michoacanas (enchiladas Michoacán style). They are absolutely delicious!
From an early age, I remember being aware of there never being enough. Not enough food or clothes or money for anything special, and always sharing what we had and thinking, “save some for later just in case.” I was thirteen years old when I learned to work in the fields picking grapes. We did this every summer all of us as a family to earn money for school clothes and school supplies. One summer all the money earned went to paying the house bills. It was rough and times were tough.
I realize it was my parents’ way of showing us what hard work is like and that we had opportunities in front of us to do better in life — have a great education and work smarter, not harder. Both of my parents worked ten-to-twelve hours a day on opposite shifts, so we hardly had time to see either of them. In a household of seven kids, my oldest sister was the leader, a stand-in mom, and she took care of us. We all stuck together and looked out for each other. I had an amazing childhood with so many great memories.
I love my parents and I appreciate and value their sacrifice to give us the best they could. They taught us that everything is possible through hard work, dedication, doing your best, and never giving up. All those life experiences have developed me into the woman I am now. I have learned difficult life lessons which come in handy with the position I hold now as the Program Resource Coordinator. I can relate with the children and parents FriendsPDX serves to help them through their life lessons and it teaches me a lot in turn. I am proud to be a Mexican-American woman and hope that my own personal life experiences can help one person change or give them hope in their life.
September 15 - October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month. FriendsPDX fully acknowledges that the terms Hispanic and Latinx are not naturally occurring and instead placed upon the communities that they were invented to describe. We have a whole blog dedicated to its historical background here.