Diana’s Immigration Story – Coban, Guatemala to Worland, Wyoming


Diana has fond memories of the mountains and trees where she grew up near Coban, Guatemala – an area visited regularly by a soft rain known as “chipi-chipi”. As a child, Diana walked every morning to her school, greeting friends and neighbors along the way.

Audio: Diana reflecting on her childhood in Guatemala

Molletes (custard or cheese-filled bread, covered in egg batter, fried, and boiled) are part of Diana’s family culinary tradition. Diana’s Abuelita, a mother of nine children, passed down the recipe.


Diana’s mother, a psychologist, stopped working when she had Diana. Diana remembers her constant presence, her love of reading, and her playfulness. She vividly recalls her mom chasing her and her siblings around with the water hose. Diana returned to Guatemala to be by her mom’s side before she passed away from cancer in 2013.

Diana’s father is a retired lawyer of Mayan descent. When it came time for Diana to go to university, he was insistent that she studied Law. He wanted her to be able to work for herself. She finished her degree but left for the United States before becoming a practicing lawyer in Guatemala. While she cannot work as a lawyer in the US, if she ever returns to Guatemala, Diana knows there will be work for her.


At the age of 17, right before she left on a student exchange to England, Diana met Cordel, the man that would one day become her husband. Cordel was also born in Guatemala to a Guatemalan mother and American father. At the age of 20, Cordel moved to the US and joined the Marines. During vacations, he would go to Guatemala and see Diana. After Cordel and Diana married in 2010, it took two years for their paperwork to be processed so Diana could come to the US. Every time she flies and sees someone clutching their immigration documents, she recalls those stressful times. She remembers holding her papers tightly in 2012 when she first arrived in Utah.


In 2014, Diana and Cordel moved from Utah to Wyoming, because of Cordel’s job. Diana describes Worland, a town in the least-populated state, as empty and open. Worland has a population of just over 5,000 people. It lacks things to do – but she thinks it is beautiful.

Everything is really far, and that’s something I don’t like. The nearest Walmart is one and a half hours away. I like that it’s peaceful, and I don’t have to lock my doors.” (audio below)

In Wyoming, Diana doesn’t have many friends or family, and her husband’s family is far away in Utah. She has found making friends difficult, and of the two that she has, neither are American-born.

“People from Worland are not super warm. In Guatemala, you say hello with a kiss, while over here, you keep a distance. I am used to it now.” (audio below)

After arriving in Wyoming, Diana started working at the local library. Inspired by her mother’s commitment to parenting, Diana decided to become a full-time mother when her daughter was born.

Audio: Diana’s daughter counting to 10

Child Photography

Diana wanted to have great pictures of her newborn baby girl. She decided to take them herself [see photo below] and realized she had the eye and interest in doing this for other mothers. Today she has a studio in her home for maternity and newborn photo sessions.

Diana continues to grow her child photography business and says the trick of the trade is patience. She hopes to have more clients in the future. It isn’t easy in Worland since there aren’t that many people, let alone babies.


Motherhood has been a challenge for Diana. She finds it hard to make time for herself.

It’s not your time anymore. It’s their time.

Even when Diana’s children are sleeping, she is thinking about them and whether or not they are okay. It’s all-consuming and exhausting, yet wonderful at the same time.

“It’s so amazing to see how they grow and how much they learn from you. But it’s also hard because you have to be a good example for them. It‘s not just saying ‘don’t do that’ or ‘do this.’ You have to show them. Being a mother changes you. You have to be the best person you can be to be a good example for your babies.” (audio below)

Diana’s husband works in the oil and gas industry as an equipment operator. This means he is often away from her and their kids.

“I have no one here; I came because I love him. He is a good provider, but he is away for two weeks, then back for five days, which is not enough, and then he goes again. This is our life.” (audio below)

Reading is a pleasure Diana learned from her mother. Sadly, she never brought any of her books from Guatemala to the US. Diana says she doesn’t buy books for herself anymore, only for her children.

“Their books are what I read now.” (audio below)


Even though she could apply right now, Diana doesn’t know whether or not she wants to become a US citizen. She still travels regularly to Guatemala, and someday she would like to move back.

“I feel that if I choose to become a citizen, I will never go back.”

“It is weird that I had this dream of living somewhere else, but now I want to go back home. I want to be there, I want to be happy, but I want to be with my husband. I wish he didn’t have to work so much. Him being away makes my job as a mother a little bit harder. I can’t say it is like being a single mom, but I can’t rely on anybody else when he is gone. It is only me.”

Audio: One day Diana hopes to return to Guatemala

“My dad is getting older, and I want to spend time with him. I wish my daughter could grow up with nieces and nephews. I have friends who have children in Guatemala, and I wish my children could grow up there with them.” 

*Updates: Since the interview, sadly, Diana’s father passed away. Luckily, Diana has found more clients and friends in Worland. Also, as her kids get older, Diana is finding that the time she has for herself is increasing.


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© Photos and text by Colin Boyd Shafer | Edited by Janice May & Kate Kamo McHugh. Quotes are edited for clarity and brevity.