Mary Sollo and Dania Covarrubias-Sollo

March 07, 2023 StoryHelix, Mary Sollo and Dania Covarrubias-Sollo Season 1 Episode 39
Mary Sollo and Dania Covarrubias-Sollo
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Mary Sollo and Dania Covarrubias-Sollo
Mar 07, 2023 Season 1 Episode 39
StoryHelix, Mary Sollo and Dania Covarrubias-Sollo

This mother and daughter duo close out our very first season. Open your ear nuggets, and hear these intergenerational experiences. Mary and Dania celebrate what they love, mourn what they no longer have, or don't know about the places where they live, describe the foods that make them feel like home, and share inspiration for creating community and feelings of belonging where none exist around them-- through music, dance, and will power.

You can read more about the project, about Wordcrafters in Eugene, about our sponsors and community partners, and send in your own Lane County, Oregon stories at StoryHelix.Wordcrafters.Org.

Thanks for listening!

Show Notes Transcript

This mother and daughter duo close out our very first season. Open your ear nuggets, and hear these intergenerational experiences. Mary and Dania celebrate what they love, mourn what they no longer have, or don't know about the places where they live, describe the foods that make them feel like home, and share inspiration for creating community and feelings of belonging where none exist around them-- through music, dance, and will power.

You can read more about the project, about Wordcrafters in Eugene, about our sponsors and community partners, and send in your own Lane County, Oregon stories at StoryHelix.Wordcrafters.Org.

Thanks for listening!

Leah Velez: [00:00:00] You're listening to Story Helix: intertwining stories, past, present, and not yet imagined in Lane County, Oregon. What's up, earthlings? I'm Leah Velez, and I'll be your host.

The stories we're about to hear were recorded via Zoom one lovely cold evening in November, 2022. Join this mother and daughter duo as they speak about their experiences with belonging and not belonging in Eugene. 

Let's open up our ear nuggets and give it a listen.

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Hi, my name is Dania. 

Mary Sollo: Hello, my name is Mari Sollo and Dania happens to be my [00:01:00] daughter. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: What does belonging feel like to you? 

Mary Sollo: Belonging. Belonging is to feel comfortable, to be reflected, to feel like you belong to some part that you identify yourself, I think. So how that feels... belonging should feel comfortable. Should feel good. Mm-hmm. ? Yeah, I think so.

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: If belonging had a smell or taste, what would it be? 

Mary Sollo: Belonging, smells like calabasa to me. You know, I can smell the food of my mom. I think I can smell the calabasa that she made, and it makes me feel comfortable and belonged to, to that house. The smell of calabasa with miel, with honey, which is squash with honey, some kind of dessert that my mom used to make.

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: What does belonging sound like [00:02:00] to you ?

Mary Sollo: Belonging sounds like a bird singing. Rain pouring. Wind running around, or I don't know how to express. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Swirling?

Mary Sollo: Swirling around. Yeah. Yeah. That belongs. Aha. Even the storms in in Oaxaca, that's the sound of 'belong' to me. I think that's why I like Oregon because we have a lot of rain. Yeah. And pumpkins about this time. Yeah, I think so. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: If belonging was a photo, what would it look like?

Mary Sollo: If belonging was a photo? That is a hard one. What comes out to my mind, it's a river. A river with trees and mountains. That's belonging to me, and that's why I love Oregon. Yeah, because there is rivers, mountains, trees, [00:03:00] trails. And it's where I, I grew up, that's the picture. Or that's the photo. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Is there, could you describe a moment where you felt like you belonged in Lane County, or a moment you felt like you didn't?

Mary Sollo: You know, it's hard to feel belong to Lane County because of the culture. It's totally different than mine, but I think I, there are many moments that I feel that I belong. Not to Lane County. I belong to Eugene. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: To Eugene? 

Mary Sollo: Yeah. You know why? Because, over the years we, we've been like building up a community for ourselves. So like when we go to a Fandango , I feel like I belong there. Or like when we have a potluck with our group or [inaudible] I feel like I belong there. but it's because we've [00:04:00] been hidden there building small community and that make, make me feel that I belong to Eugene, not to Lane County yet.

It's a very large, yeah. But I think there are moments that I feel most of the time when I'm with the, the Latino community, I feel I belong. 

If I describe a moment that I feel like I didn't? Like, say, most of the time. When some people say like, oh, I allowed you to stay in my country. I feel like, hello, I am here. I'm not asking you your permission. Right? But I still feel like I don't belong because of that. Or the time that we were talking the other day, that why we always have to... Like when one people 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: we make space for someone else to walk by. 

Mary Sollo: Yes. When we, we always are the one that makes space for the other to [00:05:00] pass. And it's that moment that I feel like, why should I do that? I have the same right as the other person to be me or the other person to move away so I can pass. Right? Yeah. So those moments make me feel that I don't. Yeah, but we're still here. I am still here. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Of course. Right? 

Mary Sollo: Yes.

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: What stories do you know about the place where you are?

Mary Sollo: Honestly, Dania, I am totally ignorant about the story of the place that I am sitting on right now. I know that Eugene, or this area was the Kalapuya territory, and that's all I know about. And the other thing that I know for sure is that this place where we are now, or where Eugene is sitting, it was a place for deer and raccoons and bears.

And we still see that. And every day we see little souls on the road [00:06:00] that are being killed by humans because we don't care about them. We're entitled to their place and we don't think about building like roads special for them. I don't know why I just think about that. I think every, every single person should investigate or learn more about the place we are.

Questions like this make me feel like very ignorant. Because I'm very entitled that I'm a human and that they have the right to be here and not even take the opportunity to learn. About the place I am-- where I am. 

What do I hope becomes of this place? Not every day, but a lot of the time when I drive on the road and I see again these little souls that are around and are suffering because we're developing more and more housing subdivisions [00:07:00] and we are like not thinking again about them.

I hope that Eugene becomes one of those sanctuaries for animals. That we consider them more.

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Do you think we can go backwards though?

Mary Sollo: It is very difficult to go back. It will be a giant effort, but if each person thinks about these little souls, I think we can. We can each aportaron una granita de can I say that? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Give our little grain of salt.

Mary Sollo: Yes. To help. For the improvement of these little animals that are... have the right to live, as we do. 

Did you want to know how did my family come to live in Oregon, or how your family comes to live in Oregon? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yes. 

Mary Sollo: You know what? I'm not gonna go on with that topic because it's very long!

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: A little, [00:08:00] 

Mary Sollo: A little one? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah. 

Mary Sollo: You know, I came to Oregon because I had a brother that lived here before me. And why? Because of the University of Oregon. That's the motive why our families here.

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: And what'd you hope for when you got here? 

Mary Sollo: What did I hope for? I think to improve my life For a better opportunity for my family that stayed in Mexico, and for me.


Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: And what have you experienced here? 

Mary Sollo: There is few of everything. There have been accomplishments, suffering, discrimination, prejudice, a lot of things that we had to overcome in order to be where we are now. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: And what made you decide to make a home here?

Mary Sollo: I think, love. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Love?

Mary Sollo: Love . 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: That's so beautiful.

Yeah. Do you wanna know if I feel like home? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah. 

Mary Sollo: It's so weird, [00:09:00] Dania. It is so weird. But you know, I've been back to Mexico and I'm very happy when I go for vacation. . But after our last trip to Mexico mm-hmm. , I realized that home is whatever we are together. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah. 

Mary Sollo: Yeah. So if we're here and we all, the entire family is here, That is home. If we are in Mexico, we are, the four of us. Mm-hmm. there is home. It's what I think. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: When I just got back from Mexico and I got off the plane and what did I say? I'm home, but we weren't home yet. We were still at the airport. In the car. 

Mary Sollo: But you feel like home. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. 

Mary Sollo: It's how I feel, and it's weird to say it, but because I'm from Mexico, from Oaxaca, from La Mixteca and I think I should still feel home when I go to Oaxaca.

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Mm-hmm. 

Mary Sollo: But it's not like that anymore. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: It changes. 

Mary Sollo: Changes. [00:10:00] Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Are you ready? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I'm ready. 

Mary Sollo: Well, ready or not here we go, . Okay. What does belonging means to you or feel like to you? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I think very similarly to you, 

Mary Sollo: Don't copy me.

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: It feels cozy. It's home. A warm blanket. Caldo de pollo when I'm feeling sick, Mexican hot chocolate and conchas that feeling... it's sweet. It's just cozy. 

Mary Sollo: That makes me think that what we grew up make us feel like we belong. Right? That's beautiful. If belonging had a smell, what would it be? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Caldo de pollo. 

Mary Sollo: The white one? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah, the good one. 

Mary Sollo: The good one?

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: The one that you make. Mole. During Christmas. You know, even sometimes starbucks. Sometimes it's Starbucks.

Mary Sollo: Yeah, because it's part of what you are growing up with. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah, and [00:11:00] sometimes I'm somewhere that's not here... And there's Starbucks everywhere and that tastes exactly the same as it does at home. So that kind of feels like home sometimes.

Mary Sollo: It's not that, that we are promoting...

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: No, no, of course. But it's everywhere. And sometimes it helps. Like that tea we like because it's minty and fruity and delicious and it tastes like some of your tea.

Mary Sollo: So that's why .That's so delicious. Your belonging tastes so delicious. What belonging sounds like to you? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I think it sounds like laughter, even like gossiping in the corner about what's going on, because you feel so comfortable. 

Mary Sollo: Yeah. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: That you can do that with people that you quote unquote belong with.

Music, my harp, San Jarocho, Folklorico, and Banda...Cumbia... 

Mary Sollo: [00:12:00] Ranchera? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: All of that. 

Mary Sollo: Your harpa... Your harp 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Mm-hmm. 

Mary Sollo: That's beautiful. I love to hear you playing the harp, so... Your belonging sounds very nice. If belonging. Dania, were a photo, what would it look like to you? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I think it would just be a big group of people that I love and care about and have helped me through everything ,smiling. Smiling being silly. Candid photos in the moment of people having fun and playing and pushing each other. You know?

Mary Sollo: Describe a moment you belong in Eugene.

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: That's really hard because I don't think I've ever belonged here because growing up being the only brown or POC in a ballet class or in a whole school, is very hard to feel like you belong.

But while we've been making this [00:13:00] community of Latino people and our Ballet Folklorico company in Eugene, it helps because I feel the kids and I see how they feel that they belong and because I know that they feel that it makes me feel like I belong because they make me belong.

Mary Sollo: Yeah. But before, when you were growing up being a child in the, let's say, in elementary, middle school, high school...

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I don't think ever.

Mary Sollo: Ever?

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I mean home, but home is home. I always belong home. In my house, in my bed, in my room. I belong there. But other than that, I don't think so. It's always been a struggle to belong.

Mary Sollo: It must be difficult growing up where one culture is inside your house and when you go out to the door 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: mm-hmm.

Mary Sollo: it's a totally different culture, right? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah. I mean, it's as simple as the fact that when I said the soda, "Squirt," it came out "squert" [00:14:00] like, 

"Oh, you like [squert?]" 

"No, it's not square-t. It's Squirt." 

Or Kleenex. I know people say tissues or Kleenex in English, but like some people would say, "You want a Kleenex? No, you want a tissue?"

Mary Sollo: Yeah. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Stuff like that. 

Mary Sollo: Or, or like we, the pronunciation that we have as a parent, right? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah. 

Mary Sollo: Like,

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: But very different. And as a kid you don't know that because I don't know how to read at like five or four years old. 

Mary Sollo: Yeah. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I just say whatever you guys say. 

Mary Sollo: Yeah. It must be hard. I don't know if I should ask this one because you, you already say that there are many moments that you did feel that you do not belong most of the time.

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I could give a specific? 

Mary Sollo: Yes, please. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I guess the one that stood out the most through my whole life was me sitting in my freshman English class, as my teacher, as we were reading [00:15:00] House on Mango Street and the book read "Small Brown, Latina Girl," and it just felt like the whole room went silent. And there were just eyes on me everywhere and it was like... yeah, I'm brown....

I forgot.

Mary Sollo: I remember you coming home and telling me. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: It was the most intense it's ever felt.

Mary Sollo: Yeah, 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: it's never been. It's all... since I grew up. We grew up in a small town. Everyone's always known me. Everyone's said my name right. Because after six years you learn how to say a name, right? 

Mary Sollo: Yeah, of course.

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: And if you don't, then I don't know what to say to you.

But that was the one moment that just stood out. It was like, oh my gosh. We all just realized that I'm not the same as all of you. 

Mary Sollo: Even though we are the same,[00:16:00] we are human. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah. Culturally. 

Mary Sollo: Culturally ...and the look of us. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah. 

Mary Sollo: Yeah. Wow. Mm-hmm. . That's a very powerful moment. And I'm like, as a parent, I'm like, how can I protect you?

Um, did you know, did you know how your family came here in Eugene, Oregon or, well, even though we lived in Veneta, we are always in Eugene... 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Well, up to what I know is that you and my dad came here separately. 

Mary Sollo: Yeah. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I think for you was to make a better life. 

Mary Sollo: Mm-hmm. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: for your family in Mexico. 

Mary Sollo: Yes. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: And then my dad, it was more like, let's see what happens. What's gonna happen. 

Mary Sollo: Yep. Do you know the stories about the place we are? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: No, honestly, not really. No. It went in one ear and fell out the other , so I don't really know. I know that [00:17:00] where we live, it was named after a man's daughter? 

Eugene, or Oregon in general [mm-hmm.] has a pretty racist past, with the fact that it was a, a sundown town. So that's unfortunate. 

But we're here now. 

Mary Sollo: We are. And they must accept that . 

And what did you hope becomes of this place? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I just hope it keeps moving in the right direction towards progress so that more little kids like me, well I'm not a little kid, but when I was a little kid, feel like they belong.

And I mean, it's good our media or like our movies and TikTok and all of that... we're seeing more brown faces. [Mm-hmm.] which is something that I never thought would make a difference in a kid's life. So, like me, I, I'm 19 now, so when I see people [00:18:00] that are looking, I'm like, yeah, yeah, yeah. Woohoo. We did it. We're in a very famous movie now, or...

I just remember when I saw girls that looked like me. [Mm-hmm.] it was like they were the most beautiful things in the whole entire world. Just because they looked like me. Even a little bit. If they had big brown eyes and long black hair and brown skin. [Mm-hmm.] it was just, my heart just overflowed. I think you remember that. Cause I had not too many. Quite a few role models. 

Mary Sollo: Yeah. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Growing up or people that I looked up to a lot, and I hope that I can help this place become that. I hope I can be that for other little girls. 

Mary Sollo: I think you are working very hard. It, and I was going to ask you this question, how it feels like you say, [00:19:00] you had one or two role models 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: mm-hmm.

Mary Sollo: growing up, being a little child, but now, now you are in that position to be a role model. How do you feel that you are a role model to, to these little kids that come and dance with? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I don't know how much of a role model I am all the time because I'm not perfect. Teaching kids dance is hard 

Mary Sollo: It is!

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: But I hope I'm doing a good job.

And like I said, one day a little girl came in and she was saying, "oh yeah, the one with the black hair. She...", and then I tell her which one though? And she kinda has this puzzled look on her face, and she's like, "what do you? oh, we all have black hair... and we all have brown skin." Like it's a moment where you can't just describe someone based on their race and it's beautiful because that's hard sometimes.

Mary Sollo: Wow. Because she didn't realize [00:20:00] that in your dance class. [Mm-hmm.] , everyone has brown hair and brown eyes. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Brown skin Yeah. She didn't know. And I just also realized like, wow, that must be interesting for you guys. Growing up since I didn't have that. That's a very strange thing. And I personally don't feel very comfortable with peers of my own age that are the same as me, because I sometimes don't understand how to interact.

And sometimes I feel way more comfortable around my white peers, I would say. Yeah, but I don't know. That was a beautiful realization that I saw that it was like, wow, this is cool. We're all the same. Well, not the.same, 

but our looks are similar. 

Mary Sollo: Wow. That that's another powerful moment for me. [Mm-hmm.] to hear that. But let me tell you that you are a role model for many kids right now. I am so proud of you. Yeah. Describe [00:21:00] one of, we're going from one topic to another one, but I think it's ok. Right. Describe one of your strongest memories that occur in Eugene. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I'm thinking the fair that one year. That was like, whoa, I've never experienced...

Mary Sollo: Can you tell me a little about it?

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Well, it was the year that someone decided to bring a firearm to the fair. And it was just such an exciting day. I hadn't been to the fair and since Covid started, so it was exciting, it was fun. It was supposed to be a really great day, and then someone decided to ruin it for everyone. And just the like, panic in seeing humans behave that way, was just so incredible.

And it was just something where I was like, wow, this happened. in Eugene. What am I supposed to expect now? It feels like in Oregon, the whole world just moves around us and nothing ever happens here. At [00:22:00] least nothing of note, or it doesn't get enough coverage in the news. And I'm sure that didn't get any coverage because no one passed away.

But at the same time, I was like, oh my goodness, this is here now. This is. This is five feet away from me. 

Mary Sollo: Correct me if I understood... If I did understand what was the most scary part of that? Seeing the behavior of the people around you? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah. 

Mary Sollo: Or the shooting? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: No, the behavior of the behavior. Because I froze. Obvious. Well, not obviously, some people get into action and you know, but I froze and I just watched as people ran and. through each other. 

Mary Sollo: Behave like a wild animal. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah, like a herd of animals just running. And it was like we we're animals. And I feel like sometimes we forget that, because we're... Humans are too smart for their own good.

Sometimes we know too much or we [00:23:00] just want to know too much. That was just incredible. I don't know who was in that crowd, but it could have been a professor, the stay at home mom of a kindergartener... who knows? But they all 

Mary Sollo: behaved like animals 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: behaved the same. 

Mary Sollo: Wow. We should educate our community then. to react appropriately.

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah. But of course the fear... you're ...

Mary Sollo: yeah. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Wanna run, you got to get away. 

Mary Sollo: Yeah. I wonder how I will behave in one of those moments. [Mm-hmm.] I don't think I should ask what made you decide to make your home here? Because I think you just

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I didn't have a choice. 

Mary Sollo: You don't have a choice. We, we just decide. Well, uh, I don't know how to say it. You just, 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I was born here. I was born here. 

 the answers that you are giving me [mm-hmm.] , I think I feel like I want to ask this question. Does it feel like home?

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Regardless of everything, it's what I... That's my [00:24:00] story. That's what I had to live through, so I wouldn't know anything different. I wouldn't know what it feels like to not be discriminated again or hear certain phrases said because of my skin color.

So I would... I don't know what it would be like to live any differently. So it feels like home. It's where I grew up and it's what I had to go through, but I think it made me a stronger person. Yeah, this is definitely my home. 

Mary Sollo: This is your home. That's very good to hear that. That makes you strong. That's good.

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Yeah. I mean, you fall and you get right back up. 

Mary Sollo: What's your favorite, let's talk about something fun. What's your favorite public place in Eugene? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: I mean, I love going to the mall. That's so fun. I like where the new farmer's market pavilion is in those four corners, because that's in Kesey Square, because when there's events there, Comes alive and it's like, wow, where [00:25:00] are we now? It's so exciting. 

Mary Sollo: What, what, what does it feel like to be there? 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: Well, it depends. If you're in Kesey Square on a random day of the year, nothing's going on, no events. It's pretty bland. It's quiet, well, not quiet, but there's not much going on. But when it, there's an event, it's exciting, and there's booths and there's food. and there's people walking around and primarily, since we attend Latino events or Mexican festivals, whatever you wanna call it, it feels alive. And it's like, I, I belong here. I belong here. 

Mary Sollo: Well, Dania, thank you very much for being here with me and be brave enough to talk about these things. Well, Between us, we always talk about everything. So this, this talk is not new to us. We talk about more [00:26:00] controversial topics, right? But thank you very much for being here with me and sharing this moment with this Story Helix Audience. Thank you very much. I'm Mary. 

Dania Covarrubias-Sollo: And I'm Dania,

Mary Sollo: Thank you. 

Leah Velez: Thanks for listening. You can find us wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you've got your own Lane County story to tell, we'd love to hear it at storyhelix dot wordcrafters dot org.