I have a few pieces of Otomi Embroidery scattered throughout my house that remind me of my grandmother; a mystical woman who had the courage and grace to learn to live in two worlds. She was an American woman who fell in love with a handsome man from Mexico. Due to social prejudice her family disowned her. Heartbroken by their rejection she moved with her husband to Mexico and became an immigrant. My grandmother, La Gringa, loved the country she came from and was curious and respectful about her adopted country. She decorated her house with handmade embroidery made by Indigenous women. Like her, I collected Otomi embroidery and have it in the most visible places of my house. Every day they serve me as reminders of her and of Mexico. Prompted by my grandmother’s passing I took an internship at the International Branch of the YMCA in New York City at age 25. I thought that some time away from Mexico would help me heal. I never intended to become an immigrant, but I fell in love, got married and started a family in the United States. As I embarked in my own immigrant journey I would often think about her and her ability to adapt and develop to live a happy life in what was once a foreign world . I think that as immigrants my grandmother and I are like Otomi embroidery; creatures that used to live on the land, but developed wings to fly; human beings who appreciate the richness that comes from living in more than one world and embracing diversity.
– Eleanore Velez