Foreign Seed

"Foreign Seed" by Joaquin Zetina, 2020. Drawing and Literature.


I decided to write a poem about my experience immigrating to this country and my struggle as a foreigner. I portrayed myself as a seed that usually grows in a different part of the world but is now planted here and struggling to become what it is meant to be. I also chose to design an image filled with personal symbolism. All of the symbols are of Maya origin because they briefly occupied my birthplace of Coatzacoalcos, which means “where the snake hides” in Nahuatl. I wanted to combine the Greek Rod of Asclepius, associated with healing and medicine, with the Mayan Tree of Life. The tree sprouts from the K’at, which is my birthday Mayan symbol meaning “seed,” and it represents germination, growth, and expansion of future generations. The seed channels blood from the ground and feeds it to the tree. In the middle of the tree is the Hunab Ku symbol, the Mayan symbol for the “The One God.” It symbolizes my spiritual beliefs, which are at the center of my life. The tree has two branches growing on each side with two jade-adorned dragons, from which blood-filled flowers spring forth to represent the potential signs of production. The adorning of the dragons with jewels symbolizes the offerings, sacrifice, and cost needed for the tree to keep growing. The tree eventually branches out and white fruit is apparent. The snake climbing around the tree represents the Mayan deity “Kukulkan,” the feathered serpent that can live beneath it all and above it all. The snake is covered with Monarch butterfly wing patterns, which represent Dreamers. Out of the mouth of the snake comes out an Ah-men, or Mayan physician, with a stethoscope ready to be used.

This project was unique to me because I was able to artistically express myself both visually and in writing. I felt that it was an opportunity to incorporate my culture and my identity as a medical student. I could expand on each of these symbols, but it is difficult for me to explain situations that I have lived that are unique to me. I feel that others would not understand certain aspects of my life. I would like for people to just appreciate my art and make their own conclusions, which I feel is the purpose of most artists in general. I did not want to display any political ideologies, or to sway people in how they think about a particular subject. Everything included in the poem and the design are my raw experiences. I hope that anyone who sees my art can enjoy it and appreciate it because it truly comes from within.

Joaquin Zetina, UUSOM ’23, is originally from Veracruz, Mexico, and graduated from Weber State University with a degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences. His life revolves around his wife and family, his Christian faith, and his love for people and culture.

Rubor Participation
2020 prose, "What did I do to get into Medical School?"