September 19, 2012 by mramos7
Growing up in a suburban area, the majority of students in my elementary school were either Caucasian or African-American. I felt ostracized, seeing as I was almost always the only Hispanic in my classes. I hated being associated with the Latino culture and as a result, I refused to learn how to speak Spanish. The inability to speak my family’s native language, undoubtedly cast me out in family events. I did not feel Latina at all when I was around them because I could not understand them. I regretted not learning the language so, I begged my mom to teach me and after hours of practice and dedication, I became fluent in Spanish. The language not only brought me closer to my family, but also to my culture. I believe that speaking Spanish truly does define being Latino/a because it brings the culture together. Knowing Spanish helps one understand the people as well as the artifacts in Hispanic countries. Sure, tourists can get translations to learn the ways of the people, but a lot of important elements get lost in translation and it is more personal to actually be able to listen and communicate with natives first hand. Being Latino/a involves knowing and practicing the culture. Embracing Hispanic culture includes eating the food from Latino countries, dancing Latino music, and most importantly, being very family-oriented. To be family-oriented, one must be able to communicate with their family. Other than the few uncles I have living in the United States, the majority of my family lives in Peru. They do not know how to speak or understand English, therefore the only way to communicate with them is through Spanish. Without Spanish, over half of my family would not be able to understand me, and I would not be as close to them as I am now because we would need a translator every time we communicated. If I never learned Spanish, it would be difficult for me to identify myself as Latina because I could not effectively communicate with others who identify themselves as Latino/as. The Spanish language not only forms the foundation of Latino culture through means of communication but it is also the key to identifying to it.