The schools here were free.: Becoming Minnesotan

Female silhouette.
  • Name - Martha Castaňon
  • Age at interview - 50
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - Second Generation American
  • Date of Interview - 02.15.2010
  • Martha Castaňon's mother and two other Mexican migrant workers, Comstock, MN.

    Economics, Education, Latino

    Essential Question

    Becoming Americans: What does it mean to be an American?

    Opportunities in America: What kind of opportunities does this person see in America that he/she did not have in the homeland?

    Words to look for

    Background Information

    Families and individuals immigrate to new countries for many reasons, including educational opportunities. In some places, parents have to pay to send their children to school. If the family cannot afford the tuition the child cannot attend. In the U.S., public school through 12th grade is available for everyone.

    To learn more about Latino history and culture, visit our Latino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

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    Narrator: Martha Castaňon (MC)

    Interviewer: Abner Arauza (AA)

    MC: You know, and that’s one of the other reasons that Mom and Dad stayed here also was because the schools were so much better, and the schools were free. Down in Mexico, my dad only went up to school to sixth grade, and, beyond that, he’d have to pay. My grandfather, who worked as a bracero, my mom’s dad, he paid for her education to go up to school to ninth grade. And Mom, of all her sisters, of all her siblings, she’s the only one who went up to ninth grade. And Mom, because of that, because of that education she had, she was hired to be like the local school teacher around the ranchitos she grew up around in.

    AA: Was that in Texas?

    MC: In Mexico.

    AA: Oh.

    MC: So she would ride on horseback and hit a different little area and stay there for a week with a family and then go on the next week. She did that for a couple of years before coming up to the north to work.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun: A Mexican laborer permitted to enter the United States and work for a limited period of time, especially in agriculture.


    Noun: Spanish word for small ranch or farm.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 2186