Jahzeel was the first woman I interviewed for my project. We met outside on a chilly day in January, before a run she was doing.

"I was born and raised in Peru and I came to the US when I was 13 years old, so I have been here longer than 30 years. It wasn’t very hard to come to US as my parents were very supportive. My father is a physician in Peru, he was targeted by terrorism and we had to leave the country for safety. We came here with a political asylum visa, and when I moved to America, I didn’t know any English.

We lived in California, I went to high school there, then I went to UC Davis (University of California, Davis). That’s where I met my husband, and we moved to Oregon when he went to Chiropractor school here. In between, I moved around a lot. I’ve been to Peru twice since living in US, never with the kids. That’s coming, maybe next year."

"I miss the food from Peru the most. When my mom comes and visits, she makes all the yummy food. My parents live in California. I also love dancing. I used to dance traditional Peruvian dance and I love it. Now with my kids, it’s a way to express my culture to them through dance.


My dad had a really big important rule for us: “From the door in you are Peruvian and you still had to learn the culture. From the door out, you are in America and you behave as such”.


We never imposed our culture on other people, because everybody has a different culture and a different way of living and that’s ok. We have to learn to find the similarities and really assimilate to a culture that we’ve come into.


When I think about whether I am Peruvian or not, I feel there are Peruvian things, but I’ve lived most of my life in the US, so I am an international woman. I have backgrounds from different cultures that fit too.


I feel there are similarities with everyone I meet. It makes me excited to see that because, if I were in Peru, I would just know Peru. And here, I have been given the opportunity to meet other people from other places, and really learn that this world, in general, is not that big. It’s very small. We are all kind of the same."

"Because I move around so much, it was always very hard to make a community. Then, when we had the kids, we decided we need to set some roots.


When the pandemic hit, there was a lot of time spent indoors. I was running on and off for about a year prior to the pandemic with some other moms. It was a lot of fun actually and it became a way for me to connect at that time with other women.  Then, I remember someone asked if there was a running group in town. That prompted me to wonder if there really exists a running group in town. And there wasn’t, so I built one. It went from like 15 people that I knew that ran, and they became members of this running group, and now we are almost 750 people from Lake Oswego. This club is not for creating any financial gain, it’s just to create community."


"My goal for the group is to see at least 10 more new people come run with us at some point over the year. Personally, I want to accomplish 1000 miles this year. Last year I set this goal and I failed. I got sick at the end of the year, and I was 50 miles short of my goal. I’ve run my first half marathon last year too.


I prefer running in the winter, it’s not that hot. I have a friend from a long time ago, and he will always tell me there is no such thing as bad weather, it’s bad gear that you have to work on. So, if you have a good hat and a good jacket, just get out there. It is what it is. My most fun running memories that I’ve had, have been running in terrible weather with the rain upside down. When you experience this with someone else, it builds connection.


This group is for everyone and anyone, which is exciting because you get to see a variety of people in the community. Running is a great equalizer, you are not better or worse than anyone, you just get out there and run."