Haven Team Spotlight: Cynthia Rojas

Cynthia Rojas (she/her) is one of the friendly faces behind The Haven’s Community Desk. She probably welcomed you on your first day, gave you a tour of the coworking space or helped you access the WiFi. Cynthia came to Bend as an au pair in 2019 and she’ll be going back to her hometown in Chiapas, Mexico this summer. Below, she shares what inspired her to travel to Bend, how working at The Haven helped her find community and advice for fellow adventure seekers.

About Cynthia Rojas

I was born in 1993, in a small city surrounded by the beautiful green color of nature, Tuxtla Gutierrez; Chiapas, Mexico. I come from a pretty small family: my mom, dad, and two siblings. As the middle child, I was so lucky to always have someone to play with (and fight) with.

I later got my degree in Hospitality Management, even if I wasn’t always the best student. I took English lessons but learned most of the language through television. Watching Friends and How I Met Your Mother helped me learn better than any lesson.

After memorizing most of the show’s lines, something inside me told me that it was time for an adventure. So, in 2017 I applied for a job at the happiest place in the world. No, I’m not talking about Cancun during spring break—I’m talking about Walt Disney World.

Season of Adventure

I spent a year living and working in Florida at EPCOT theme park. After making many memories and friends, I returned home with new experiences and stories to tell. However, when I got home it felt different. After returning to Chiapas, I felt like I didn’t belong there anymore. In my head—and my heart—I knew that there was something else waiting for me.

My experience at Disney was beyond amazing, but I didn’t get to practice my English very often. Living and working with Mexicans meant that we all spoke Spanish with each other. I wanted to continue practicing my English and social skills (which, by the way, I am still working on), which meant I had the perfect reason to go on a new adventure.

Moving to Bend, Oregon

After talking among friends and a lot of online research (and, talks with my pillow), I decided to take the leap and apply for an international exchange program for au pairs. The process took me a couple of months, as I’d be working as a live-in nanny. If you’re wondering how this whole process works, think of it like a dating app.

First, you read someone’s profile and browse their pictures. Then, if that person or family looks nice, you swipe right. If that same family likes you, it’s a match! You then have a chance to start a conversation and ask questions. Finally, together you can decide if you want to start a relationship.

Luckily, I found my match during my search. An amazing family from a small town surrounded by the beautiful green color of nature. Spoiler alert: it was Carrie and Scott Douglass in Bend, Oregon!

In September of 2019, I headed up to Oregon with the idea that I’d be here for just a year. But, life has a way of surprising you. After a pandemic, a broken ankle, and almost three years, I am still living the Bend lifestyle. Unfortunately, this amazing experience is coming to an end this summer.

Finding Community

In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much from Bend when I started this adventure. Actually, I was even a little worried—it felt like I was traveling to the middle of nowhere. But now, I can absolutely say that Bend changed my life in a really positive way.

Bend is full of incredible hikes, food trucks, crazy weather, and a bunch of outdoor activities. But most importantly, amazing people. Bend has won a huge part of my heart!

Most people think that it’s easy for me to make new friends, but the truth is that it is actually very difficult. I was coming from a different place and not feeling one hundred percent confident about my English-speaking skills. And, I was often too shy to start talking up a conversation with new people. We all know that coming to a new place can be intimidating; I won’t deny that it was so scary trying to fit into a new place and lifestyle.

At first, I was feeling frustrated because I thought it would be impossible for me to make friends. Also, I didn’t think that I would find a Latin community in Bend. Luckily, everything changed after I made one small decision.

Interning for The Haven

During the pandemic, I decided to look for a way to help the community. And, at the same time, planned to work on my personal goals by getting an internship. I wanted to get more experience in hospitality management, and The Haven was the best option. From day one, I felt so welcomed here. Everybody was super nice, extremely patient, and excited to talk with me.

This really helped me to feel more confident about myself. It’s amazing how your day can change with a smile, a “Hi!” or a random question about your day. And, whether I’m working or hanging out at The Haven, I get to experience this every single day.

I have met some really amazing and interesting people during my time in Bend and The Haven. Additionally, I’ve learned so many things that I know I can keep applying in my future. After arriving here, it took only a few minutes to feel like I was in the right place and I knew that this was the opportunity I was looking for.

Once I started socializing with all the members, everything got easier. And, I actually found Latin people that made me feel even more comfortable. I also found people who speak some Spanish and being able to help them practice the language makes me feel so helpful.

Meet the author

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