By Emely Candrey
I’ve always lived in two worlds. In my house we only spoke Spanish, I did not learn to read, write or even speak english until I started preschool. I would come home with homework assignments about vowels and consonants, I would sit at the dinner table with my mom and struggle to force my mouth to make these foreign sounds.
I remember it so clearly, I came home one evening with an assignment about the letter ‘y’. I remember being so confused about what sound the letter y is supposed to make, I remember frustrating hours with my mom trying to figure out what sound to attach to this letter. Finally I remember my mom crying because she could not help me further.
In first grade I remember learning how to spell, we had a different word each week. Every week I would master the word, learning to spell it forward and backwards. I was obsessed with reading and spelling. All the words and sounds were new to me. English became my favorite subject in school. I had a knack for attaching my feelings to strings of sentences.
My parents took me to register for middle school, the white lady sitting behind the desk in the office watched as I helped my parents fill out the paperwork. Translating what they did not understand. She viewed my state test scores and commented on how I had tested into a regular sixth grade english class. She told my parents that even though my test scores placed me in a regular english class, I would benefit by taking a remedial english class. That was the first day I noticed, I live in two worlds. I speak two different languages fluently.
I will always live in a world where my relatives in El Salvador are impressed with my ability to hold a conversation without stuttering, or my ability to read and write in spanish. For them I will always be too Americanized. I will always live in a world where white people feel the need to comment on the fact that I do not speak English with an accent, or that I sound “white” when I speak. I was always the only brown girl in my advanced placement English classes. For them I will always be too brown.
My two languages shaped who I am today. I fell in love with the English language. I read Ernest Hemingway and T.S Eliot and I wanted to be just like them one day. Spanish will always sweep me off my feet, there is something so romantic and loving about the Spanish language. I will always live in these two worlds, and that’s perfectly fine for me. I thank my mom for all times she read me my favorite english story books at bedtime, and made up the storyline because she could not read the words on the page. I want to erase all the times my mom felt she was not good enough because she struggles with english. I want to thank my mom, without her this mixed language world wouldn’t exist for me, and I can’t imagine what my life would be like.