Hispanic at heart, St. Mary’s teacher “inspired” by Mexican-American history

SAN ANTONIO – Considered an authority on Mexican-American history, politics and culture, how and where Teresa Von Hoy’s life began may surprise many.

“Wow, I’m the biggest hillbilly you’ve ever met,” Von Hoy said.

She grew up in North Carolina in what she said was the largest cherry orchard in the South, near the Appalachians.

“I grew up in Heaven on the one hand and in a very tense and racist city on the other,” said Von Hoy.

She said her family were Quakers and her father was the only high school history teacher, so he was chosen to lead desegregation efforts in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“They tapped him because they said, ‘Look, you’ve got no business to lose. You will not be boycotted, ”said Von Hoy.

Yet her family paid the price, she said.

Von Hoy said they were harassed, received threatening messages and that she was beaten while waiting for her school bus in the early morning darkness.

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“So this issue of racial justice and social justice runs deep,” said Von Hoy.

Given his background at the time, Von Hoy said, “I had never really heard of Mexico. I had never heard of a foreign language.

But when she was 19, Von Hoy was on a train in Norway when she met her future husband from Mexico City.

“I fell in love with him and all of Mexico and all of Latin America,” Von Hoy said.

After their marriage, Von Hoy said her husband had several job offers, including one in San Antonio, but he wanted her to choose which one he should take.

“I chose San Antonio. San Antonio inspires me, its stories and its people, its history, ”said Von Hoy.

She also said their firstborn, Alejandro, was another major deciding factor.

“We wanted him to grow up Mexican-American, and we were in Connecticut where people couldn’t even pronounce his name,” Von Hoy said.

At least in San Antonio, she says, even people who don’t speak Spanish knew how to pronounce their son’s name.

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“There is just a higher level of osmosis and acceptance of all things Hispanic,” Von Hoy said.

She said she told her husband, “This is our place in the world. This is where we can do our job and raise our children.

Von Hoy said living in San Antonio would allow her to travel to UT Austin, known for its Latin American collections in its library.

Von Hoy said she dreamed of working there, and she did, until 31 years ago, when she started teaching at St. Mary’s University, a school with a reputation of its own. distinguished.

“St. Mary’s University has a history of passionate people working and risking for social justice. “So I must be worthy of this heritage.”

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