Luis Ordoñez / Albuquerque

My name is Luis Fernando Ordoñez. I’m 24 years old. I was studying at the University of New Mexico. Took some time off, joined the military, and that’s basically where I am right now at the present. I was born in Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua. At the age of two my mother got a visa for me and we came over to the United States to look for a better future. We decided to stay and our permit expired. Well I just grew up here, in Albuquerque, since I was two. I would go, before our visa expired, I’d go every now and then to visit grandparents, uncles in Mexico and stuff like that. Basically, most of my general schooling was here in Albuquerque so I consider myself an Albuquerque citizen. Well I can say, I can call Albuquerque my hometown but I’m definitely Mexican-American made.

Well I think I have great memories. I made them with my family and the friends I got to know here. I know over time you get to know a lot of people, very interesting people, and they stick to your life for most of it. Like I said I came in here to the United States with a visa, that expired, and I guess I lived undocumented without knowing it. Because as a child you don’t really realize the need for documentation in the United States. I think the first time I really realized the importance of documentation was basically when I got to high school and we…. I’m a musician and so I was always in the marching band and obviously like they had a field trip to go to Chihuahua, Chihuahua (Mexico).  Me and another trumpet player, they considered us the biggest part of the band because of talent. We were unable to go because of our documentation status. Him and I both had to stay here and the rest of the band got to go. I saw pictures of them really having fun over there. It made me feel left out because I was undocumented. That was my freshman year so from then on I started realizing the importance of having documentation because I was getting closer and closer to graduation. And obviously after graduation, the question was, “what comes after high school?” Well, once I got to my senior year, the last year of my high school, I decided I did want to study… And that’s when it started becoming an issue.

We already had plans of getting documentation, but they weren’t fast enough. So, basically by the time I got to graduation, I had to graduate a month earlier, before everyone else, so I didn’t get to walk the line, I didn’t get to wear my cap and gown, or receive my diploma with everyone else. I had my own graduation, thankfully, because of a really good teacher of mine. She helped me take all my tests before, she helped me finish all my work before, one month before, the actually graduation, so I did get to graduate. I did get my diploma. But, you know, it was a little bit different than the usual high school student.

After that I got somewhat deported to Mexico. I wouldn’t call it deportation because they never told us to leave, they just made a hearing down in Ciudad Juarez (Mexico). And obviously to go to Cd. Juarez you need to leave the country; without documentation you can’t come back to the country. That took about three years’ worth from going to hearings, and fixing up the documentation in order to get the green card. Well that was for me an experience because I got to get back at my roots and really know where my family comes from. And just basically find out why I do things I do, why my family has the culture set that way. Basically it was a very important part of my teenage years.

I think probably all those years even before I left, and when I left, and when I came back, were definitely confusion because I mean I was here undocumented and I felt left out. Then I went back to Mexico and because I haven’t been there for a long time you know, I was considered different from them. So I was considered more from the United States. Once I come back, I have documents and everything but because I was out for three years, you know, you still have the confusion of “Am I from the United States?” “Am I Mexican?” “Am I both or what am I trying to look for?” you know. Spending three years over there you do get to know very awesome people that you know makes you want to go back. So, you know, even when I had my documents, I would still wonder, if I went back to Mexico if I could be successful there. You have a lot more options but it gives you a lot more confusion than usual.

Even before I became documented I had talked to other branches (of the military) and they needed some kind of documentation so they knew I wasn’t just any kind of terrorist I guess or something like that. Definitely when I got my documentation and came back, military was on the side, but not really, I guess, an eligible answer. Because I was looking to become something with an educational…traditional four year college education. So I came back into college, I had to go into CNM and transfer into UNM. And then after that I began the traditional four year college. And basically it’s somewhat difficult especially if you take three years off of your life where you’re not studying, you’re not really keeping up with the work and stuff like that. And other conflicts that came around because obviously you don’t have the same financial aid as traditional students that graduate from high school and go straight into college you know. They have a little bit more help with scholarships and stuff like that and I kinda lost that because of those three years. So economically I was behind the rest of the income freshman in college. Obviously I had to find a way to make a living and study. It became drastically hard. So I made some other plans, take some time off from college, work, come back into the college, and just be a little more economically stable. But you know that takes a lot more time than I thought. You know, I have friends that are in the military and stuff like that. They talked to me about having the GI bill and getting paid by the military and all that, and that’s when I decided…I started looking into it. I asked for information first before I just decided to go into the military. And they talked about what the military can do for me and not really what I can do for the military. And I really like the benefits that the military is gonna help me finish school. That’s what I really want, to finish school, and have a stable career. And also just having better leadership skills and stuff like that. So it was very beneficial when I decided to join. But after I saw everything that they were gonna do for me, then they started talking me what I was gonna do for the military. I mean, I don’t see that as something bad, the job I got is very interesting. I’ve seen videos of other Navy sailors, that do the same job as me, and I think it’s very enjoyable. I think it was probably one of the best options I’ve made in order to be successful. Just basically come back to school with the GI bill and helping me out and have a little bit more time to study. A lot more than I could years before.

Well, having that I’ve been a musician here and in Mexico, the scene is very different. I mean there’s a little bit more money here than there would be in Mexico. And the scene here in Albuquerque is not very successful. There’s a lot of local bands that don’t make it out of here, that’s all they do. But just spending all that time in Mexico really helped me become a better musician and think of music as more of a business than I would just staying here. Because before I left to Mexico I saw music as a hobby, whereas I got to Mexico and that was my job, being a musician. And saw that there was definitely a… I guess a way of life. You can become a musician, just pay your bills through there, make that your number one source of income. But, I come back here and I see that it’s very different, it’s a lot more difficult because Albuquerque is not a big city. And…the music scene is sort of like a monopoly. You know, there’s not a lot of choices you can do, not a lot of venues that you can definitely go and just get a start. And obviously the venues here are not willing to give you that chance of starting up a band. They want bands to play for free and stuff like that. And basically I don’t think it’s fair for musicians. I guess it’s really good to motivate you to become a better musician. So once you are a better musician you can go out of state and try your luck outside of New Mexico. But you definitely have to kick in a lot of hours of work and put in a lot of money. In the music business I guess the more money you put into the more money you’re going to get back. It’s kind of like what I do with school, you have to pay school to get a good job in order to get more money.

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Albuquerque’s a city with… I think it has great potential. A lot of people come here because of its climate, it’s not a bad place to come. But you now there’s a couple things that do need to change. Basically, you know, supporting the art here in Albuquerque, supporting the night life, because of the night life, a lot of people pay their bills. There’s bar tenders, club bouncers, that make a living on the weekends. You know there’s a couple strict laws that avoid the night life to be as successful as other cities. Albuquerque has a lot of potential because it’s centered between bigger cities. To the north of us we have Denver, to the east we have a lot of cities such as, Dallas, Houston, and all those Texan big cities that do have a big music scene. Then on the other side we also have like Phoenix and then all the cities in California. The place has a lot of potential to be successful because of all the surroundings, you know. It’s on the way from big city to big city. It’s definitely somewhere big name artists could stop by, and give the night life a chance.

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