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Friday, May 15, 2009
May: What's your heritage?
In this month's roundtable concerning Red Glass, Little Willow asked:
"Anyone want to share their background or nationality? Are there any immigration stories in your immediate family?" Anyone celebrating their Latina heritage?
No Latina blood in me, although I grew up in Miami which is pretty steeped in rich Latin culture. I love it!
I know my German grandfather left Germany right before WWII. The other side of my family came from Switzerland.
Not Latina but full Vietnamese. Both of my parents immigrated to Canada in the late 80s and early 90s.
As exciting as it gets for me is half Irish. My dad was born in Ireland and my mom in Canada. My dad came to Canada in his twenties. When I was a kid, he told me lots of stories about growing up in 1950s Belfast. So different from my childhood.
I'm a little bit of a ton of things. A TON.
One of my favorite heritage-related memories is from when I was 13. My family and I went on a trip to the UK, and while we were in Wales, we visited some old church cemeteries, and found some tombstones from some of our great-great-great-great(and so on) ancestors! That was pretty amazing.
On my dad's side, I'm a quarter Irish and a quarter Finnish. On my mom's side, I'm a quarter Mexican and a quarter Puerto Rican. My mother and her siblings were the 1st generation to live in the US. I used to only speak fluent Spanish at home until I was 6 or so but because of racism and school, I stopped speaking it to blend in. Looks wise, I take after the Irish/Finnish side of my family with blonde hair and green eyes. I figured out at a young age that if I didn't speak Spanish, no one would know that I was half Hispanic and then I wouldn't have to deal with being ostracized (which I was for a few years when I was younger). Since I look more caucasian, latins don't accept me as one of them and the 'white folk' wouldn't accept me when I'd speak in Spanish.
Now that I'm older, I don't care. I'm proud to be what I am. My abuela only spoke Spanish and out of 9 grandchildren, I was the only one who knew how to speak the language. After she died 2 years ago, I found out that some of my cousins were really upset that they never knew Spanish and couldn't communicate with our abuelitta. If my mother never taught me Spanish, I wouldn't have had the amazing relationship with my grandmother. I feel so lucky and special that I got got to have that relationship. Also, I have more understanding of the Mexican and Puerto Rican cultures because of my abuela. I may not appear to be half Latin but I know that I am and I am proud of it.
A lot of my family came from Ireland and went straight to West Virginia. At one graveyard in Three Churches, WVA, I can trace waaaay far back. I just may go to rest there myself!
My grandfather came from a wealthy family, and was therefore able to bribe border guards to let him out of communist China when he was in his twenties. He's never been back to China since then.
He has some interesting stories, but he doesn't talk about them very often. He still has a beautiful wood model of the ship that brought him to America.
So interesting to hear about everyone's heritage! I really liked reading your story, Genevieve-- and I love that your Spanish fluency has enabled you to have a close relationship with your abuela.
Many people have shared similar stories with me. In rural Oaxaca, I met lots of kids who couldn't communicate with their grandparents because in many cases, the younger generations don't value the indigenous languages (often in an attempt to avoid the stigma of being considered indigenous).
My own heritage is a smattering of northern European-- Welsh, French, German, Norwegian. I'm grateful that other cultures have found their way into my family, too. My son came from Guatemala, my brother from Korea, and my aunt from Thailand. And many of my close friends, who feel like family to me, are from Mexico and Central and South America...
i'm celebrating my chinese and taiwanese heritage! i immigrated from taiwan in 1980 and am esl (english as a second language).
i was born in taiwan but my family has its roots in china.
I love this post! What a huge variety of answers. And everyone embracing culture. Woohoo!
I am English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Dutch, Swedish, and German.
I am a mutt.
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