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January 4, 2011 > American Stories

American Stories

By Suzanne Ortt
Photo courtesy of Luz and Victor Ponce

In Part I (TCV December 14, 2010), a couple originally from Greece and Germany told of their life's journey. In this next installment, we jump to the United States' neighboring country of Mexico. From there, two more future citizens arrived. Here is their story.

Victor and Luz Ponce met in high school when he was 18 and she 17. Victor opted for electrical trade school. His teacher kept encouraging students, "Study hard and you will get a really good job." Upon graduation, he learned this was not true; no jobs were available. So, in March 1988, he decided to come north to the U.S. and look for work.

Luz, who studied art in high school, joined Victor at the end of 1988. Both lived with their respective families so housing was not a problem. They held jobs in either fast food places or manufacturing to earn their livelihoods. The next step was marriage.

The wedding, a small affair, took place at her brother's apartment. Luz' mother came to Oakland for the romantic occasion. As income was limited, no honeymoon was planned. Luz' mother and brother stepped in and treated them to one night at the Marina Inn in San Leandro. Today their children get a big laugh at this. Luz knows times have changed in the last 20 years.

Victor, with the responsibility of marriage, renewed his electrical studies. Luz obtained her GED and attended Ohlone College. Victor continued his electrical work and Luz began working in education.

The family grew. Their daughter Cynthia was born, and five years later came their son Emilio. Until that time, they had always planned to return to Mexico. But becoming parents changed their perspective. The Ponces decided to stay and became US citizens.

Citizenship has benefits and responsibilities; one of those responsibility is voting which these two take seriously. Both of them always vote.

After their second child was born, the couple agreed Luz would stay home with the children. They purchased a 1,000 square foot house in Fremont, built in the 1950s. A good friend, a banker, stressed the value of living within your means, and he advised them how to handle money. With Victor's salary, the couple lived satisfactorily, but money was tight.

After much thought, they decided to enlarge and remodel the house. The City approved the plans and work began. Friends volunteered to do much of the work; some, though, required hired help. Victor handled the electrical needs while continuing his 40- hour workweek. Luz was the painter. For a few months during construction, the family moved out of the house but as soon as the bathroom was ready and the kitchen useable, they returned. Remodeling took two years. Now the house fills their needs. And they followed their friend's advice to live within their means.

Victor has worked in the same field for 15 years. Luz returned to work in the education field and loves her job. This couple has reached the 20-year mark of marriage, and Victor believes, "Communication is the key to a good marriage."

Cynthia and Emilio are good kids and doing well. Cynthia, 19, is in her second year at Ohlone and works part-time at Target. She plans to transfer to a state college and become a marriage and family therapist. Emilio, 14 years old, is in the ninth grade at Washington High School and a good student.

Throughout the years, Victor and Luz Ponce have adapted to the United States and acknowledge that their banker friend's advice was one of the largest influences on their happiness and stability.

Their responsible, diligent, and satisfying lives have added to the mosaic of America.


Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of three articles profiling those who immigrated to the Bay Area from different parts of the world.

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