Since the 1970s, Los Angeles has become a hub for Mexico’s indigenous Zapotecs – a culture that predates the Spanish conquest of the Americas.

All week we are exploring the connection between Santa Maria Tavehua, a tiny village in the hillsides of southern Mexico, and L.A.’s Koreatown – where more than half the village now lives.

This is a story is about putting down roots. We hear from 17-year old Jocelynda Salvador. She was born and raised in “K-town”—but to her, it is “little Oaxaca.” This year she became the first in her family to go to college. She kept an audio diary of her first month there.

Jocelynda’s story was produced by Anayansi Diaz-Cortes and Eric Pearse Chavez, and edited by Jacob Conrad and Deborah George. Sonic Trace is part of Localore and the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR). It’s funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.



  • Biz Lopez said:

    Thanks to Jocelynda for sharing her story. I am a adjunct art history professor at Los Angeles City College. I didn’t have a great awareness of the contributions of my Mexican ancestors either until I went to college and later grad school at UCLA. There I learned a great deal about Oaxaca and travelled there a number of times. I, sadly, am not Oaxacan. My family came from Jalisco and Nayarit about 100 years ago. Great places, but somehow I want to be Oaxacan. I have so much Oaxaca envy! That place is magical and if Jocylynda needs any help with resources to learn more about the richness of Oaxacan culture from an outsiders perspective I’d love to be a resource. Even though she sounds like she has a growing support network at UCI. Checking out the recent work of Dr. John Pohl at LACMA might be fun for her to check out.

    Thanks for your program and best of luck to Jocelynda!


    Dr. Biz Lopez

  • Julieta said:

    Dear Dr. Biz Lopez,
    I appreciate that you reach out to our students and offer your support. While Jocelynda will be heading out to UCI, there are many–many, more young Oaxacans in Los Angeles that could benefit from your support. I invite you to like the Sonic Trace facebook page and share your comment there. I for one, am also a Zapotec, now residing in New York City. I am glad to know that awareness of one’s identity is becoming more prominent in Los Angeles, among higher academic levels, in comparison to how it was in the 80s and 90s. I hope that more of us will continue to work together to continue spreading the awareness, the pride and the force of empowerment in knowing who we are.

    All the best,

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