By JENNIFER S.
(Interviewed by Carolina Valdivia)
This week, we have the pleasure of sharing with you all Jennifer’s experience and advice about blogging as a formerly undocumented immigrant. I first got the opportunity to connect with Jennifer close to two years ago and since then we have continued to support and inspire each other in our blogging journeys!
Jennifer is a reader and a writer. She likes to run, swim, do yoga, and cycle. She is also a working mom of a very energetic 3 and a half year old.
She has an undergraduate degree in English Literature and Masters in Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs. She has been working in the pharmaceutical industry for about 10 years now. And while she doesn’t belong to any organizations, she does keep up with the undocumented community via Facebook. She is amazed to have Twitter followers. She was on the Ascend Fund scholarship review board this year and attended the occasional conference call for United We Dream (after her son’s bedtime). She has been trying to focus her energy on her own work so she does limit the free time she has to her writing, Last but not least, she was undocumented from age 7 until age 30.
Jennifer began to blog in September 2013. In Little Red Rising, she talks about her own experiences of being undocumented. She does book reviews and what seems like off school work in her wish to understand her undocumented history. She refers a lot to TV shows, books and movies she likes because “a” she likes it and “b” it makes her writing fun. It also turned into a way to make her material more palatable to what may be an unfamiliar audience. That part happened by accident. She has found that if she feels excited about the text, it comes through in her work.
– What motivated you to start your own blog?
Honestly, I was a stay at home mom and blogging was free. I found Carolina (creator of My (Un)Documented Life blog) through a Google search and realized there were other bloggers out there with similar backgrounds. They were talking about their experiences. At first I didn’t want to carry a diary around all the time and was just using it as an electronic diary. Meeting Carolina (electronically) and her encouragement to “publish” was what sort of pushed me to actually put it online. It was even more terrifying to actually change the settings so I was searchable on Google. When I got further away from the gut wrenching posts, I realized that what I wrote wasn’t a part of me anymore. There was something about putting that truth into the world that freed me from it. It sort of brings me closer to what I would like to be in terms of writing.
– How did you develop a following? I’m not sure I have a following other than my five friends. Honestly, I blogged for myself and the fact that people seem to read it is a plus. It means a lot that people get what they get out of it. I am a little older than the Dreamers and at the time, I didn’t have anything or anyone that I could look to with regard to the undocumented experience. Knowing I wasn’t alone was an eye opener. I have Carolina to thank for my first warm welcome into the Undocumented community. I think of it as writing about a time in our history that is worth documenting (no pun intended) so we can look back on the diverse millions having endured the same thing. It is a circumstance beyond our control and we all process it so differently.
– What is one of the highlights from your blogging experience? It was so validating to know that my writing was worthwhile. In having written some posts for Balloon-Juice, I felt like I reached an audience outside of the undocumented community. My posts were met with warmth and it seemed like that audience learned something from me. Overall, writing has been an outlet while balancing career and motherhood and family life. Balance isn’t easy but it’s definitely possible. The blog medium is nice because you have an audience but it happens on your own time.
– How did you choose which platform to use for your blog? (e.g. Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, etc) I already had a Gmail account and it was easier to use the login for Blogger. I have used WordPress when writing for Balloon-Juice. It seems like WordPress has the capability for more users and entries. I was and still am new to blogging. Blogger makes it easy. Lately I have just been playing with what I can do to the page and keeping it organized, even just the colors.
– Thus far, what are some of the pros/cons of that platform? So far the only thing I don’t like is minimizing the photos a bit so they don’t fall off the margins and overlap with the gadgets. My gadgets are on the footer and my photos are slightly smaller to stay within the boundaries.
– What is one piece of advice you have for fellow undocumented folks starting their own blog? Do it for yourself and speak your heart. We are together in this so it’s worthwhile to shed light on our experience. You are no longer the solitary voice. It’s also cheaper than therapy. We all need it! LOL!
– Anything else you’d like to share about your blogging experience? It’s been phenomenal to know that writing isn’t as solitary as writers make it out to be. Yes, it is when you write. The spark happens when a stranger reads it and makes the connection with you. This human experience is what binds us together whether it is pontificating about Batman or that having been undocumented has caused an unfathomable darkness. I have dealt with my feelings for some time. It took me years to understand it. In being undocumented and writing about it, we somehow convey that we are not so different from the more privileged among us.
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