All posts by Giselle Guevara

What if?

This past week I’ve sat with the feedback and advice given to me last week after my presentation. It really forced me to sit with everything I was trying to avoid because it was too messy in my mind. But, who knew? Facing the problem actually fixes it! Kind of…

First, thank you all for the advice & words of encouragement, I appreciate it, truly 🙂 Second, I was looking into the graphic novels G recommended and :O! Great works to say the least. I absolutely loved the illustrations and how they seamlessly fit into the written story. I also thought of the content of the photos I shared and how Dr. Zamora pointed out that they tell stories on their own. So, what if, I could create scenes with these photos and write my personal essays through them?

Then, the layout of it all would be like that of a graphic novel with a scrapbook aesthetic. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I literally googled “graphic novel in scrapbook form” and was pleasantly surprised to see The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt and a YouTube video previewing some pages in it. I can easily see my words and photos in a similar format and I think it’s a great reference point. Now, how do I make that?

Luckily, I have pretty reliable resources who would be delighted to teach me a little Adobe InDesign, and help me with it as well. I need to investigate to see if audio and video would be a possibility though. If not, I think I can live without it. Still, I hope I can find a way and I’ll try to find a similar platform before I give it up entirely.

Anyway , this week was extremely helpful and relieving. It definitely gives me peace of mind that the visual side of it is getting settled in my head and it’s really exciting to actually start envisioning an end product I can be really proud of.

This week, and most of the coming weeks, MUST be dedicated to the lit review. I have many resources and I can see purpose in all of them but, now I have to throw some out and figure out what exactly I need from my resources to create something cohesive – a daunting task I oddly look forward to…

Gears Are Grinding

Organizing this has been an absolute nightmare. I took note of Erik’s method of categorizing my research articles (great job bestie!), but I quickly found it wasn’t too effective in my case.

I tried to categorize the articles by Personal, Historical and Social but I think the articles just fell into every category. The one commonality they shared in every article is the importance of understanding the lived experiences of refugees through the socio-historical context of their origin country.

At the core of my thesis is identity and parts of my identity that I’ve chosen to forget. The idea of internal versus external influences on my identity came up too. By internal influences, I mean the influence that my family and close friends have had on my identity. By external influences, I mean the socio-historical context I am living through and its influence on my identity.

Going back to the articles, their purpose is to help me better understand what my family has lived through and how it may affect me but also to understand the general social climate of it all. The trip I plan to take is also meant to do that for me. I’ve been looking into specific museums, one being Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen, which will give me a visual look into what my family has endured. I’m also interested because my parents have never been to the museums in San Salvador and I think, my mom especially, will be intrigued. That is an experience that I’m excited to document since it’ll be like my two worlds colliding.

Then, I thought – what if I tried to envision the actual pieces I’m going to write in categories? How do I want them to be broken up and what kind of narrative do I want to follow? Linear or non-linear? I mentioned doing something like we did in E-Lit and I’m still really intrigued to do that because of the different forms of media I want to include. If that’s the case, it’ll most likely be non-linear and I think this just leaves more room for me to play around with the aesthetics of the piece.

This has been a mess of a blog, but it’s just an accurate representation of how non-linear my thinking has been in terms of organization. I really think the internal versus external idea might lead me somewhere I like and I plan to move forward in that direction. In the coming weeks, I’d like to start looking at old writings and focus on those to see if I can edit anything or grab inspiration from them. I’m itching to start the writing process, but I want to make sure I know what direction I stick with.

This was in my journal and lead me to the idea

In the Reflection Period, I guess…

I’ve taken these last two weeks to really read my articles and kind of see how my family and I fit into these theories. The main articles of focus were two written by Mirna E. Carranza, and honestly, I felt like I was reading about myself throughout both articles.

The first titled, “SALVADORIAN WOMEN SPEAK: Coping in Canada with Past Trauma and Loss,” gave me insight to a side of my family’s postwar traumas that I’ve seen play out in real time, but never acknowledged. Carranza goes through 4 coping strategies that many of the women use to come to terms with the postwar traumas. Spoiler alert: every single one is actively used in my family!

The one the stuck out to me was “no pensar,” which translates to “don’t think,” and this is essentially the women actively choosing not to allow their traumas to drown them by not thinking about them. This is definitely a coping mechanism for many family members of mine. But, what interests me is the fact that this explains so much in terms of their inability to communicate. This also plays into their need for self-reliance.

In relation to myself, this unfortunately came down the pipeline and filtered to me. I mean, I’ve always struggled to communicate what I feel. This is why I write; I need to put it somewhere other than within myself.

That realization alone was enough to make me feel like I’m moving in the right direction in terms of my thesis. It makes sense why I’m itching to search my memories and find my place in the Salvadorian community. I feel like this will be some weird form of communication between my ethnicity and I.

One more thing: I have sat down with my mother and I have an itinerary building up for my trip in January. Most of the locations are within her village and my father’s. They are on opposite ends of the country, so I feel like this will be an interesting lens to look through. I have six days and hardly any internet. Seven year old me would think I’m insane for doing this.

quick break to breathe

This week I took time and looked more into the structure of my thesis. I have so many creative ideas that I desperately need to narrow down, so I know what I’m actually creating. Because I have so many forms of media to include, I’m really leaning towards going a similar route to the E-Lit website. That is where the idea spawned from anyway. I feel like it could act as an organizer in a way. As for the research, I am categorizing them by context versus content.

I know those are two broad categories but it’s helping me navigate through the research articles a bit. I think of context as histories, social movements, etc. and content has more to do with individualized research – so like the more creative references that’ll inspire my thesis. Essentially, I’m separating the scholarly research with the creative research.

I know the gears have to start turning a lot quicker than what I’m doing right now, but I think I finally have a better grasp at the final end product that I want in terms of research. The visual end product needs to be cleared ASAP.


This was probably the easiest research reading I‘ve had to do in a while because I was genuinely interested and needed to know more. I’ve found roughly 5 articles this past week, emphasis on roughly. I mean, yes, they grab my interest but I’m kind of trying to see how they can work together. I’m trying hard to not find too much unrelated material and just grabbing whatever interests me.

From last class, I kept the words “forgotten memories,”in my head as I was looking for key terms to start researching. A lot of the articles I found and noted down for myself had to do with acculturation and the different effects it can have on mothers versus daughters. The other half of the research I touched upon had to do with postwar El Salvador. This is super important to me because this was the war that my parents had fled from, yet I know nothing about it besides the destruction and violence caused.

The postwar articles I think will be useful in that they show the war’s effect on a grand scale, so it’ll help me come up with how to word interview questions. Like I said, I really don’t want to go over there and ask tough, traumatic questions to my family. I think this will help dig up related concerns though.

The acculturation articles are interviews, so obviously it’ll help to see some type of structure. But, one article, “Navigating Personal Borders: Recovering Memories of Identity and Culture,” really caught my attention. There is an interview where the interviewee, a woman born in Mexico but was brought to the US at 3 years old, tells her childhood story through photos.

I’ve mentioned previously that I wanted to incorporate photo in my work too because things that I don’t remember in my actual memory, I can always find them in old family photos. The interviewee had the same idea and it’s really interesting to see my thought process play out in this article.

One more piece that aligns with what I’m trying to dig up is called, “Solito”. It’s a NY Times Bestseller from a Salvadorian writer, Javier Zamora, who recounts his experience in migrating to the US as a child. This book has brought so many things to the surface for me already and it just feels like it fell into my lap at the right time. Since I’m going for a more creative approach, this is definitely an important source to have.

For now, this big jumble is all I have, but before I go further into research, I want to take what I have, organize them, make sure they actually work for me, and hopefully apply it to what I’m trying to create.

A conversation with myself

5 hours of time is a goldmine. I want vignettes and photos. Vignettes are memory-based, but I don’t have memories of El Salvador because I ran away from it for so much of my adolescence, and that’s kind of the point. I neglected my heritage, or I neglected learning about it. As I grow older, I become more inquisitive of my surroundings and their origins.

Then, I have the trip I may take in January where I can record, interview, dig up histories of my town, take photos as artifacts, create an interactive “thing” where all of this lives….but where?

And…what is the question?

What am I asking from myself, of the people involved? What do I need to know? Do I want to talk about generational trauma? Not really, but maybe a specific form of it.

How does generational trauma manifest itself?

Generational trauma is defined as a sort of “collective suffering,” which is interesting and maybe something I’d like to sit in and think about. A lot of my family had to run from traumatic national events, which I’m sure trickles down to me somehow.

This topic intrigues me, but I also don’t want it to become a long list of traumas my family has been through. Maybe it can be the base for it all? Who knows…

exactly…where is it

I started to think up ideas last semester when I was told we can reflect back on other works we’ve done, but none stuck to me. Maybe the website I created for E-lit, but it wasn’t exactly executed the way I thought about it originally.

Honestly, what excites me most is the creative freedom we get to make something that means something to us. The part that makes me pick at my fingers is the fact that it has to be one hundred percent original material. I mean, isn’t everything an example of something else?

But, then, it just goes back to, what matters to me, specifically?

More recently, family. Obviously, it has always been important to me… but when some familiar faces start to fade, their absence is more prominent than ever before. What does that have to do with writing studies?

That bridge has been yet to be found, and I kind of feel like when I find it, it’ll be missing a few planks to discourage me. It’ll work too.

Anyway, I hadn’t realized how long I’d been thinking about my thesis until I opened my sticky notes on my laptop, where I had already written a list of themes to explore. I’m not sure if they’ll go anywhere, but it won’t hurt to look into all of them.

I will inevitably find it. Until then, here’s my brain vomit…