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Julian Gonzalez in Santa Maria Tavehua, Oaxaca, playing his tuba. Photo by Camen Vidal

Julian Gonzalez in Santa Maria Tavehua, Oaxaca, playing his tuba. Photo by Camen Vidal

:: One of these personal stories that emerged was from Julian Gonzalez, a 19-year-old tuba player living in Koreatown, Los Angeles. Julian was born in LA, but his family is from the small village of Santa Maria Tavehua in Oaxaca, Mexico. Located in Southwestern Mexico, Oaxaca is home to the Zapotecs, the largest indigenous group in the state. Since the 1970s, LA has been a hub for this native culture. Sonic Trace produced a five-part series exploring the connection between Santa Maria Tavehua and LA’s Koreatown, where nearly half of the village now lives. From this series came Julian’s story of his life in Los Angeles, and his quest to find his mother.

Diaz-Cortes: "We approached Julian because he's charismatic and he is from Koreatown, which has a strong link to Santa Maria Tavehua. What emerged from his story is that Julian and his family were abandoned by his mother. They had no idea where she was. So, we basically went on a hunt to help him find his mom. We actually went back to Santa Maria Tavehua in Oaxaca, Mexico. We found some stuff about the mom, but never actually found her. It was really unexpected that such a personal, engaging story would come out of that."

You can hear more about Julian’s story on Sonic Trace’s website here.