Language and Literacy Narrative

Diana Caballero

Professor Svay

Composition Individual & Society 10108

November 3, 2023

Cultural Identification Blooming From Language 

            I had not been aware that language comes in many forms and tones which can change depending on context or region. In one country alone, there could be multiple variations of a single language. I only became aware of this during the time I temporarily moved to Mexico. It was a shocking reality that had not occurred to me in my younger years. I had always romanticized trilingual people or people that know more than 3 languages fluently. I believed that it was a luxury for one to confidently say they are trilingual. Yet being able to speak in different dialects from a certain language is also luxurious. Being a part of something more. The feeling of being entitled to one’s culture, or country of origin, is much more valuable than being able to speak all the languages without being a part of a culture.

            My journey to Mexico initiated during the very beginning of 4th grade, where I was still practicing reading and writing skills. Teachers were also incorporating computational skills by beginning with creating small codes. Due to my family and I’s parting to Mexico, I never got to follow through with that training. It is still a sour thought I keep in mind. To me that was the only con about the entire situation and yes, I will always be salty about it. My mother had made the abrupt decision of moving to Mexico in order to be with my father and become a family once again. Honestly I was extremely excited to live in a different region, my ethnic home country, somewhere that was completely new. I had no clue what to expect from our time in Mexico. I certainly did not expect another brother. However, I was certain that it would be a magnificent experience. From the moment we arrived, it was starting to feel very surreal. In the airport, I was able to see my father and ran up to him with my brother. All three of us tightly squeezed together after a long time of being apart. Since then we have been greatly embraced with the warmth of my father and his family. Back in New York, none of family members were as affectionate or warm. It was a magical feeling that I couldn’t grow tired of and that I still crave today. Though I had not realized that my relatives we were living with spoke in a completely different lingo than what I would speak with my parents at home. My parents and I mostly spoke in a formal way which is something I assumed every Latin American culture and country spoke since that is how we all understand each other. I realized that was false when I started hanging around with my cousins and uncles. They spoke differently. To me it sounded very rude and informal which is something that I was not used to at the time and I saw it as an awful thing. Since my brother and I were still growing up, my parents made sure (or at least tried to make sure) we never heard curses or any kind of informal language. Then my family in Mexico began saying things like “Que onda chamaca” (what’s up kid) or “No mames eso está chingon” (no freaking way that’s so cool). I had never heard anyone say things like that but it really stuck to me for a while because at some point I had no clue what they were saying. I just knew that the way they were speaking sounded so cool and so much better than formal language that it has become a part of my language. I was loving the new lingo and the culture I was being introduced to. Slowly but surely I began to understand the lingo and speak it as well. Although there were sometimes where I had troubles. I vividly remember that one time I was hanging out with one of my cousins in the backyard of our house. Most of my family lives together in one of my grandfather’s territories, therefore hanging out with my cousins occurred quite often. While I was hanging out with my cousin and my brother, I remember he said “ábrete” to one of us. I was sort of stunned but mostly bewildered. Ábrete in Spanish means to open something but in this context it seemed absolutely illogical to me. So then I remember asking him what he meant with what he said. That’s when he told me that it meant to move out of the way. That was a moment that I never forgot because it really hit me that not everyone speaks the same kind of Spanish and that there are multiple lingos or dialects to a specific language. 

            The journey to Mexico helped me acquire all the amazing experiences I now have with my culture and my native language. I feel a much deeper connection to my roots which has enhanced my confidence being considered as a Mexican American girl. I feel in touch with the two cultures that make my identity. Going to Mexico and learning the lingo has made me feel much more confident to say that I am Mexican, no one gets to make fun of me or judge me for the language I speak. No one can tell me that I have been “Americanized” because I am in touch with my roots and I know my culture. I love my culture and I love Mexico. My experience living in Mexico has enhanced my identity by a huge margin which is something I am eternally grateful for to my mother. If she had never made that life changing decision my life would have continued to be boring and empty. Even if I was never able to practice making codes in 4th grade. The knowledge and the experiences I have obtained from Mexico are much more than I could have ever imagined, much more than what sitting in class and making codes would have ever taught me. These experiences are a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing that has completely changed my life, I feel proud of who I am and I am still trying to incorporate those dialects into my daily life because that is who I am. 

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