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Interview with Nidia Betancourt

Betancourt, Nidia
Saunders, Anne
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with People and Places; Cultural Identification; Stories and Storytellers
Nidia Betancourt shares some facts about her family in Mexico and her poetry.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Anne Saunders interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
AS (Anne Saunders): OK. Now just pretend, I'm just going to hold this right about like this. Just pretend it's not there, like you're talking to me, OK?
NB (Nidia Betancourt): Uh-huh.
AS: And this is in between. All right. OK. Tell me who you are.
NB: Um, I'm Nidia Betancourt.
AS: OK. And how old are you, Nidia?
NB: I'm 13 years old.
AS: Thirteen, great. OK. And, uh, where were you born?
NB: I was born in Mexico.
AS: OK, what city?
NB: Huixtla.
AS: Huixtla? OK. Very good! And how long have you lived in Spencer?
NB: In Spencer, for, three and a half years, now.
AS: Good! OK. Three and a half years. Super! OK. Tell me some stories! Tell me a story, anything that, that you, that comes to your mind. Whether it be a favorite, favorite book you've read, a favorite book you've had read to you, uh, a story your dad likes to tell about you, about how you were born, about your birth. Can you, can you tell me your birth story? Tell me your birth story. You know your birth story?
NB: [Giggle] No.
AS: No?
NB: Uh, my favorite story is uh, Little Red Riding Hood.
AS: OK. Tell me about "Little Red Riding Hood." That's great.
NB: Well, "Little Red Riding Hood" is about uh, a little girl who didn't listen to her mother. OK. So, uh, um, so she went to her grandmother's house. Her mom gave her some cookies to take to her grandmother's house, and so she did. And her mother also told her not to talk to strangers. So, on her way to grandmother's house, she, she went by the forest, and so, um, she, there, a wolf came up to her and he was a stranger. So instead of obeying her mother, she started talking to the wolf. The wolf told her, "I know a shortcut. You can go to your grandmother's house." She said, "OK. I, I want to know the shortcut." So, she, he gave her the shortcut to. So, he took the real shortcut and she took the long. And so, when she got to her grandmother's house, the wolf was already there and he was dressed up as the, as the grandmother.
AS: OK. What happened to Grandmother?
NB: She got eaten.
AS: Uh-huh. OK.
NB: And um-.
AS: You're doing great! You're doing, doing great!
NB: OK. When she got there, she said, "Grandmother, I brought some cookies for you." She said, "Yeah, Dear. Just put them on the side of the bed right there." OK. So, um, so she did and she said, "Grandmother! What big eyes you have!" And, and the wolf said, "It's better to see you my dear!" And she said, "Grandmother! What big nose you have! What big nose you have!" "The better to smell you, my dear!" Said, and she said, "Grandmother, what big ears you have!" And he said, "The better to hear you with, my dear!" She said, "But, Grandmother! What big teeth you have!" And he said, "The better to eat you with," [laughs] "my dear!" So the little girl got eaten whole and there was a man nearby who, who happened to hear screams. And so he ran to see what was wrong. So once he got there. He saw the wolf had just eaten Little Red Riding Hood. And ( ) that, he, he grabbed the wolf, cut him open and took the granny and Little Red Riding Hood out. And so he put stones in his stomach, so he was full forever.
AS: Wonderful! That is a wonderful re-telling of that story! You did it without missing a beat! That was perfect! Do you know that there're, there are lots of, uh, different-.
NB: Versions?
AS: Versions of it? Do you know the version, the version that's written that's supposed to be more, for younger kids? What happens to the, to the Grandmother? Can you think of the end, have you ever heard that ending before? Um, instead of getting eaten, what happens? Where-?
NB: She hides.
AS: Where?
NB: In the closet?
AS: Yes! Yes, she hides in the closet. And then, OK. What does Little Red Riding Hood do?
NB: She rans.
AS: She runs and who does she-?
NB: She finds the man.
AS: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Yeah, she finds the man. And he's a woodcutter. So the, then he comes in. So, so there's lots of, um, I can't remember, is that, is that one of the Grimm Brothers', fairytales? Or is that a-?
NB: I'm not really sure.
AS: Hans Christian Andersen? I, I get, get mixed up between, there are two real famous writers of fairytales, uh, and they were both writing about the same time, The Brothers' Grimm and then, um, a man named, uh, Andersen, Hans Christian Andersen I think, so, so that is fabulous! How long has it been since you've read that story?
NB: Um, well, the last time I read it, it was like three days ago, my sister, the, the book.
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: And I read it to her.
AS: So you read to your little sister!
NB: Yes.
AS: Fantastic! How did she do? Did she like it?
NB: [Laugh] I don't think she understands it, because she's, uh, four years old.
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: But I showed her the pictures and she kind of understands a little bit about the story.
AS: Well, you know what I bet? I bet that because Big Sister read that story to her, I bet she's going to remember that book, and you're going to be reading it over and over and over again!
NB: [Laugh]
AS: Huh? So that you will know it even better! That's the way my children were, they would, especially my daughter. Now my, my son, you know, was not quite as, um, quite as good about sitting still to listen-.
NB: [Giggle]
AS: For a story. He was my, he was my wiggle worm!
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: He wouldn't, he wouldn't last very long. Can you think of anything else? Can you tell me a little bit about your family? When was the last time you went to Mexico?
NB: Uh, well I haven't been to Mexico. I just gotten here and never been back ever since.
AS: Oh, you haven't been back since?
NB: No.
AS: OK. How much family do you have left in Mexico?
NB: On my, um, on my mom's side I got, I still got an aunt and an uncle and three cousins and my grandparents.
AS: Uh-huh, uh-huh. OK.
NB: And on my dad's side I got, um, my Grandmother and a couple aunts, and two cousins.
AS: Super!
NB: Three, three cousins.
AS: Three cousins?
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: Do they, is, do they come visit you all here in the States? Or-?
NB: Yeah, they come some, some-.
AS: Sometimes?
NB: Yeah, sometimes they come. Whenever they can.
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: They give us a call and they say, "Send us a little bit of money so we can go up there."
AS: OK. Tell me about your, your, their economic situation down there. Do they, are they more affluent than, than some? Are they, I mean, fairly well-to-do compared to other-?
NB: They're average.
AS: Average?
NB: They're what we call, uh, well, some, some of my family are called ?campasinos.'
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: That means they're not really rich, they're not wealthy or anything like that. They're just like on the average.
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: Just, just need money for food and that's it, because they, where I live, they have a whole bunch of rivers and stuff. So you can go over there and just take the house or-.
AS: Yeah.
NB: And have fun. But they usually don't really use money unless there's an emergency or like, for food and that's it.
AS: Do they have good jobs? I mean do they have \\ good paying-. \\
NB: \\ Yeah. They have jobs. \\
AS: Regular good paying jobs?
NB: Yeah.
AS: Great. Are they in, industry? Working in the factories? How, do they work the farm?
NB: They have um, um, they either sell their food, they make food for like a little restaurant around the corner-.
AS: Oh, oh. OK.
NB: Or something like, or just at the little store there.
AS: OK. So they have like a little produce store? Where they-?
NB: Yeah.
AS: Do they sell the food that they grow?
NB: Yeah.
AS: Do they sell their own food that they've grown?
NB: Yeah.
NB: They have like a little place where they fix shoes or they fix your clothes.
AS: OK. Very nice. So they're content in Mexico? Do they, they don't have any desire to, or they just can't afford to leave? Or what keeps them staying in Mexico?
NB: Let's see, because usually in Mexico, it's like, not so much worries that there is, like because usually, here, you know, you have to get a job, you have to. But up there, one person works for everybody, usually.
NB: Because there's, well, some families do come here, but the other half stays.
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: Like, some have, some have just their dad with them here and their mother's in Mexico.
AS: Ooh.
NB: So, so like, still he only, so we only come here for money just to gather some, some money and then go send it home.
AS: Send it home, I see. So does your dad send money back-?
NB: Yeah.
AS: Right regularly to his brothers and sisters and their families?
NB: Yeah.
AS: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Well, that's wonderful. I have known that. I knew that, that those, that family members that do work here, because they can make more money, send it back to Mexico on a regular basis. I mean, I think, uh, Antonio, his, I've heard him talk about sending money back, to, to the, uh, the home country. So anyway, well, darlin', you have done fantastic! We need to see how many-.
AS: OK, tell me more.
AS: Huh? OK. Where do you want to take up? Do you want to talk more about family? Or do you want to tell me about a different story?
NB: My family.
AS: OK. Keep going! Keep going! You're doing super! This is wonderful! My professor is going to loving this! OK.
NB: The other day I told you that I like to, um, write poems?
AS: Uh-huh. Yep.
NB: Um, so does a little cousin that I have in Mexico.
AS: Um-hmm.
NB: He, he sends me, we write each other back and forth and he sends me some of his poems. And some are only like three sentences, but they're really good.
AS: Great!
NB: So, um, and, you know, that's where I started getting the poem ideas from, because he started when he was like little and he could write really good. So he started just copying first out of books.
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: And then he got me into it and then I started just to do my own poems after that.
AS: Wonderful!
NB: And so does he. He has a, a book, uh, a notebook filled, uh, with poems, which is what I'm doing now with my notebook that I showed you.
AS: Shoot! Oh me! That's wonderful! So he's been kind of an inspiration to you, \\ hasn't he- \\
NB: \\ Yeah. \\
AS: To get you to express yourself-
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: Poetically.
NB: Yeah. We basically like the same things.
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: Like our, our both favorite sport is soccer.
AS: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
NB: And we like to write poems. And everything is just like, the things that we like is identical.
AS: Yeah.
NB: But we don't, we look alike a little bit because on my, on my dad's side brother. I look like my dad's brother.
AS: Yeah, yeah.
NB: And so he turned out to look like his dad, and so that's how we look alike a little bit.
AS: That's wonderful. That's wonderful. Well, so how old is he? Is he-?
NB: He's like, nine.
AS: He's just nine! Ooh! So you're, how old are you?
NB: 14.
AS: Age 14. So he's actually, what? What, about four years, five years younger than you? Four or five years younger, than you?
NB: Five.
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: Five years younger.
AS: Hmm. [under breath] Joy is age 17. OK. So, um, you don't have your poems with you, do you?
NB: No.
AS: OK. I was going to see if you wanted to read one of them. Because, like I say, this would be a wonderful cultural experience for, say they're thinking that maybe twenty years down the road people would, uh, would, would, might want to read it. But there again, they might be too personal for you to want to, want to share.
NB: No. It's OK. I could share one if I had one with me.
AS: Good. OK. OK. Is it here or is it at home?
NB: It's in, inside my classroom.
AS: Hmm. Do you, I can stop the, the tape. Do you want to go, do you want me give you a pass and, you know, do you think we've got time? What bus do you go on? Do you go on-?
NB: I go on the second bus load.
AS: You've got second bus load? Well, we've got time! If, if you don't mind going and getting it and sharing?
NB: Yeah, sure.
AS: Sure? That would be great! That would be wonderful! Let me just put it on pau-.
AS: OK. Tell me a little bit about the poem that, what made you write this particular poem \\ before you read it. \\
NB: \\ Well- \\ uh, it's called, "If I Had the Guts to Say I Do." Uh, it's one that I wrote because I was like thinking of, um, what it, we, what it would be like getting married because it's also like I wrote this before, the day before a wedding was taking place of my best friend sister.
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: And so I just thought it might be nice and I also wrote it, it was dedicated to my boyfriend. [Giggle]
AS: Good!
NB: He, he read it and he has a copy of it, so it was also written to him.
AS: Very nice, very nice! OK. Go ahead. Start off, start off with your title of it.
NB: OK. It's called, "If I Had the Guts to Say I Do."
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: If I had the guts to say I do,
I would only do it for you. No one else and one who cares, That's why I chose you as the leader of what I do, What I say, and what to ask. Expect the truth Because, for me, There's nothing I would not do, Just to have you as the leader of what I do. AS: Wonderful! That is just wonderful! Um, do you want to keep going a little bit longer? Or do you, do you have time before you have to leave?
NB: I still have a couple of minutes left.
AS: A couple of minutes left? So I, I think you are just really, you know, what we need to do is, uh, let me help you, uh, clean it up \\ a little bit \\ as you're writing this poetry.
NB: \\ Uh-huh. \\
AS: Uh, we need to help you a little bit. Now with poetry you can pretty much do anything with punctuation. You can do anything with capitalization. There's a poet called e.e., named e.e.cummings and he doesn't use capital letters at all, for instance, in his poetry. But, uh, you know, I'm not that good at poetry. But, uh, you know, I'm not that good at poetry. But like I told you, if you read it aloud, it helps you to see where to put the punctuation. Doesn't it?
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: Yeah, yeah. So uh, so where do you want to go from here?
NB: I want to talk about Robert Frost.
AS: Robert Frost?
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: Super! Go for it!
NB: Yeah.
AS: Wonderful! Tell me about Robert Frost.
NB: OK. Robert Frost is one of my favorite poetry writers. He is like an insp-, also an inspiration for me to write poems because there's one called, "The Road Not Taken."
AS: (Anne Saunders): Yep, the Ro, "The Road Not Taken," yeah.
NB: Yeah.
AS: I'm familiar with that one.
NB: Uh, and that, that one like also inspired me to start writing poems because the more I started writing the poems, the more I know what my feelings are for certain things or certain persons.
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: Or, um, I just like to read his poems whenever I'm, I'm like doing something.
NB: Just to help me, just to know why, what I'm sure about. Just to know if I'm really sure about it.
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: I like, say that you like somebody, but you're not really sure that you do. So like you read one of his poems and it makes you just understand like, what is your true feeling for it.
AS: Wonderful! Do you have your own book of poems by him or is it just, have you just borrow them from the library?
NB: I get them from the library. I'm trying to find one, uh, I'm trying to get, there's Book Land at the mall, and they have some of his books up there.
AS: Uh-huh.
NB: And I went to them up there, I went to the mall, uh, with my mama and I took her down to that bookstore and, uh, she told me if, if I really wanted the book, I could get it. So we're, we might be going back there to get it sometime this week.
AS: Wonderful! Wonderful! That's, that's terrific! I'm just, so, you know what? You've made a really nice, you make a nice turn around! You know that? With, with your attitude and how you're feeling about things and I think because of your poetry. Because your cousin has gotten you into writing poetry.
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: Especially since he's younger than you are.
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: And, I think that's made a huge difference in how, in your outlook, on a whole lot of things, and I think that's real commendable. I really do! So, keep and keep reading Robert Frost! Did you know that he, that each president chooses a Poet Laureate, and back in the ?60s, when John Kennedywas sworn in-.
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: Did you know that, that Robert Frost read his, wrote the poem for John F. Kennedy'sinauguration at his request? And it was right soon after that that he died, so he's been dead about, oh, 30, 30 some years. Thirty some years since he died.
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: But he still, he was still living during John Kennedy'sinauguration. And he, he John Kennedy's chose Robert Frost to do his, his inaugural prose, or dedication or whatever it is.
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: And uh, so he was quite an old man. It was cold! Oh they, they do the inauguration in January and it was as cold as the dickens that day! And I remember him, seeing it on TV and having him, you know-
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: But anyway, enough about, about me. I'm, I'm not, you're supposed to be doing the talking, not me. So, anyway, but I, car riders, OK. Do you want to keep going? Or you want to-?
NB: Um, sure!
AS: Huh? [Laughs] We've got about, you've got about twenty, twenty-two minutes on here, as far as I know, and I wish I knew how to play it back, but I don't know how to do it. I don't know how to make it, I don't know how to make the darn thing work! [Laugh] This thing's too mechanical, too complicated for me! But uh, I, you know, I just, but if I have a chance, um, to get them back from you and can learn how to play it, I'll let you all listen to this at some time in the near future. But I just don't, enough about you. Anything else you wanted to tell me about your poetry?
NB: There's not much else.
AS: Not much else? Well, I appreciate you sharing that! That's wonderful!
NB: Um, I've got a poem about Bill Clinton, what's happening to him right now about, um, him having an affair with that, uh, Monica Lewinsky.
AS: Uh-huh. Yep.
NB: And then I've got a poem about at home, it's a funny poem but-.
AS: Is it?
NB: Yeah. It's also like, uh, just telling, telling people like what happened to him. What's happening to him right now.
AS: Oh yeah! Oh yeah. Well, it, apparently, didn't hurt the other Democrats too much. The election was kind of, you know, it wasn't real one-sided. I thought the Republicans were just going to sweep everything. But they didn't. I think most, most people seemed to vote for the person, you know, that was running more than what party he belonged to.
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: So, that was a plus. So tell me, I tell you what, bring it if you want. Uh, maybe week, if I don't get with you Friday, next week?
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: And I'd love to have you share it with me, if you, if you like.
NB: Uh-huh.
AS: So anyhow. Ok, well um, let's call it quits. I'm about worn out! [Laughter]