Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month Staff Spotlight:
How I celebrate my Mexican-ness
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), I have been thinking about what it means for me to be Mexican. As I am getting older, I find I am more thoughtful about my heritage, my roots. There is something very connective for me as I think about my ancestors and where we have come from.
One of the ways I celebrate being Mexican is through language. My Spanish is not very good. I remember taking Spanish in high school and I probably got a B. After I graduated from San Jose State University in May of 2018 with my Master of Social Work degree, I decided to take a road trip through Mexico with my then partner (now husband) and our little terrier mutt, Zero. This trip was partially done to help me improve my Spanish (immersion is great for building language skills). But I also wanted to connect with the land and the people of Mexico by having this experience.
In June of 2018, the trip started with 3-weeks at a fantastic language school in Ensenada. We then drove all throughout and around Baja, took the ferry from La Paz to near Los Mochis, drove to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato (where I later found out my maternal grandfather’s family was from) and Mexico City. At that point, we started making our way back to the United States. So many great places, wonderful people, and amazing adventures.
One of the things that I remember vividly about this trip of a lifetime was the warmth of the people. I recall sitting in a laundromat one afternoon washing my clothes, and while I was waiting for the clothes to dry, I struck up a conversation with a man. His English was about as good as my Spanish (which is to say, we were both learning) and we had a lovely conversation. Almost all of the people in Mexico that I talked with in my poor Spanish were very kind, gentle, and understanding.
I have witnessed multiple times in the United States where people will get frustrated with those whose English is their second language. My suggestion to those who get mad when someone is a non-native English speaker is to go into a foreign country and try and speak a language that is difficult (like English) and see how you fair. Being a non-native speaker is challenging, as I can tell you from first-hand experience.
When we are outside of our comfort zone it can be scary. Showing kindness to others (especially when they are trying their best) is an important life skill to have. In closing, I would like to wish everyone a happy Hispanic Heritage Month. Reflecting on what this month means to me was a lovely thought-provoking experience. I thank you for reading my thoughts and reflections.