Meet Estervina Davis: A colorful journey from the Dominican Republic to the Berkshires
Accents: The voices of our immigrant neighbors in the Berkshires
REINOUT VAN WAGTENDONK — SPECIAL TO THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
Posted Friday, January 13, 2017 3:07 pm
Her children are grown up now, but Estervina Davis is still not sure about the American custom of sleepovers.
“In my country you don’t do that,” she says. “Everybody sleeps in their own house. I would have never even asked my parents if I could, because I knew they would say ‘no’.”
That was an unsettling cultural difference she had to adapt to when she moved from the Dominican Republic to the Berkshires in 2004.
“I know I brought my kids here and this is the culture they grow up in. But with the sleepovers I always thought ‘oh my God…’ And I had to know where they go, had to know the parents and everything before I said ‘ok’.”
Now 48, she grew up in Villas Agricolas in the capital city of Santo Domingo. In the Accents podcast, she joyfully describes the busy, sunny street life: the vegetable and fruit sellers loudly hawking their plantains and tomatoes from the back of their trucks. She describes the bright pinks and blues, yellows, greens and reds the houses there are painted.
“I never really noticed until I brought my American husband there,” Davis says in the living room of their Pittsfield home in the comparatively monochromatic Little Italy neighborhood off of Newell Street. “Everybody has different tastes and in my town there were no regulations. You can paint your house whatever color you choose.”
She worked in radio in Santo Domingo.
“I was supposed to work there for three months,” she says about her job with Grupo López, a large communications company that owns several radio stations. “One of my best friends was pregnant and I could have her job until she had her baby. But then they asked me to stay and I was there for 15 years.”
She worked various support jobs for Disco 106 FM and Escape 88.9 FM: in advertising, accounting and with the system that airs the commercials when they are supposed to.
She did not get behind a microphone. That “beautiful experience” came in Great Barrington, at the community radio station 97.7 WBCR-LP. As Estervina Pimentel she co-hosted the Spanish language show Mundo Latino.
“It was Martha Escobar’s show. She invited me to be on it one time. And I loved it! We played a lot of music. We invited people to talk about different topics. Sometimes we told a joke. I don’t know if anybody else laughed, but we did.”
She came to the United States with her ex-husband for her children, she says.
Her oldest daughter Smergphy Olaverria, now 23, had already spent a lot of time with her grandmother in New York. Estervina wanted the same chances and better education for her other two kids: Ericedis, 22, and Melvin, 20.
It did mean that she had to give up her “great job” at the Dominican radio stations for a sewing job at Housatonic Curtains, the production plant for Stockbridge-based Country Curtains.
“I thought I knew how to sew,” she says and then mimics the frantic sound of the industrial sewing machine she had to master. “But that was something else.”
To make ends meet she also took a dishwashing job at the Fairview Commons Nursing Center in Great Barrington. Her easy, friendly connections with residents there got noticed: “my supervisor said ‘why don’t you do the CNA-class? Because I think you would be good at that’.”
They paid for her course work. In addition to her full-time sewing job and her three shifts a week at the nursing home, she studied. She passed her Certified Nursing Assistant exams.
Now she wears bright, fuchsia-colored scrubs when doing her rounds as a home health care worker for Porchlight VNA in various Berkshire towns. A splash of color reminiscent of the bright colors she grew up amongst in her town in the Dominican Republic.
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