Jonathan Mendoza

As Interviewed by Carl Svahn, March 15, 2015
"I think that just tells us that in spite of our differences, in spite of the locations we inhabit, we’re all part of the same household. We’re all truly brothers and sisters."
Jonathan Mendoza

Introductory Profile: About Jonathan Mendoza

I had the privilege of interviewing Jonathan Mendoza for my firsthand history project. I came to know Mr. Mendoza through his daughter Emma, who was my best friend in preschool. Our families now attend the same church, where his wife is one of our priests. Mr. Mendoza grew up in Mexico City with his young mother and older sister. As a teenager, he immigrated to the United States with his estranged father and soon learned English. Several years later, he became a citizen of the United States, graduated from the University of Texas, and is now currently a technical writer for Apple. He is a soft-spoken man who chooses his words carefully, especially as they relate to people and cultures.

Mr. Mendoza and I discussed topics ranging from racism towards Mexican immigrants to the stress of living as a teenage illegal immigrant in the US. It was interesting to hear his perspectives on US-born teenagers calling him derogatory terms, even though they were from the same ethnic group. I was intrigued by his story because, after knowing him for several years, I had no idea about his childhood and background. It is a very different story than my own. There were several moments where Mr. Mendoza appeared shaken remembering his childhood, which was unique for me because adults do not usually show that kind of vulnerability. He shared a great deal of detail about his childhood, including some painful memories. We do not usually get the opportunity to share that kind of information with people we know. In the end, I have a new appreciation for some of the challenges that Mexican immigrants (legal and illegal) face today in Texas and how one man has worked, in his own quiet way, for social justice.