WATSONVILLE — Erica Hernandez grew up in Watsonville, immersed in a community that has been shaped by immigrants since its founding in 1868.
These are stories of struggle and triumph, of plowing furrows into rich soil and reaping the crops that would make the Pajaro Valley an agricultural epicenter.
More so, they are stories of generations of people simply striving to work and support their families, as children grew into grandparents, and as diesel replaced the steam that replaced horse-drawn plows.
Now, with immigration a hot-button issue that too often brings with it a stigma, Hernandez is hoping to tell as many of these stories as she can.
She has created My Immigrant Life Podcast, which launched this week. She is hoping the community will reach out with their own stories.
For the uninitiated, a podcast is a downloadable audio file similar to radio shows. They often come as series.
“I wanted to capture these stories and put them out in the world,” she said. “For me it was a healing process, getting these stories.”
Hernandez, 37, attended Rio Del Mar Elementary School, Aptos Junior High and Aptos High School, and then received a degree in theater from UC Riverside. She now works for Driscoll’s.
Her first podcast was the story of her friend Arlette Quiñones, who came from Peru with her mother as a young girl, and never knew she was undocumented until she was in her late teens.
She also interviewed her grandmother.
For future shows, Hernandez plans to interview a Brazilian immigrant who has a Japanese father. She also hopes to talk to a Chinese friend.
“I thought, people need to hear that,” Hernandez said. “Overall for me it’s to humanize these people and bring their stories to light.”
To submit an immigrant story online, visit linktr.ee/myimmigrantlife.
My Immigrant Life Podcast can be found at the following sites.
• Apple Podcast: apple.co/2Woerzj
• Spotify: spoti.fi/2WhWSk5
• Instagram: bit.ly/2HYESrc