RAISE A VOICE: Catalina Ayuso Morales and Jessica M


826LA’s annual Young Authors’ Book Project engages students at one high school in every aspect of writing, editing, and publishing. In Through the Same Halls: Journeys of Elders Born and Raised in South Central and Beyond, students from the 826LA Writers’ Room at Manual Arts High School interviewed and wrote about people who paved the way.


“Sometimes you can’t give your children everything you’d like”

This is an excerpt from Jessica M.’s interview with Catalina Ayuso Morales, a 57-year-old South LA resident, retired LAUSD cafeteria worker, mother, and immigrant from Oaxaca, Mexico:

JM: What is the most difficult thing about being a mother?

CA: Sometimes you can’t give [your children] everything you’d like. You want to give them the best example, treat them with the best discipline, teach them not to make mistakes, and attempt to get along with them…but sometimes they have some ideas and we have others, especially us who grew up in another country…. For example, my grandchildren know three languages. They like to learn other languages and coexist with other people and their cultures. I didn’t know that at first. I thought all I needed was what I had.

JM: Do you think that in the United States, traditions get lost with each generation?

CA: At times, yes, it can be easy to lose traditions, but I’ve tried to teach them to my children…like Día de los Muertos. I put my altars up…. Día de los Muertos is all about remembering–remembering the people that have left us. When I leave this earth, I want to be remembered, too. That’s why I love our traditions.

JM: What did your grandparents talk to you about?

CA: A lot of time they talked about how difficult it has been living there, but sometimes difficult for them was not having a stove or a refrigerator. If you don’t know what’s out there, you don’t need it…. I remember my grandmother would bring us fruit. She had a sack this big where she would carry corn to sell, or peanuts. Sometimes other vendors would put guavas in that bag, sometimes mangos. She would bring all of this to us. Everything she would harvest that wasn’t for us, she sold. They had enough, and even enough to give others.

JM: What advice do you have for younger generations?

CA: Talk to as many people as you can. They say that the best thing is to travel, to visit places, and not just places like Paris or very nice places, which require spending a lot of money, but towns and small places. The most basic, the easiest thing is to talk with other people. Talk and ask questions like you’re doing now.

About the Author

Jessica M. was born in Los Angeles and grew up in South Central. Jessica is very passionate about cooking. She loves to go out and go to places she has never been before. Jessica spends her free time walking her dog around the park. She likes riding her bike with her brother through the park.

The views expressed in this book are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of 826LA. We support student publishing and are thrilled you are reading this text. Purchase Through the Same Halls in stores and online at the Time Travel Mart here.

Help students like Jessica gain the tools they need to write their futures: Support 826LA’s free writing and tutoring programs for students in under-resourced communities. Donate today, and amplify the voices of tomorrow.

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