Reflection by Arianna Fabian ’22, Latin@s Unid@s Co-President
When I first arrived at Carondelet, I felt like a fish out of water. It was a shock coming to a school with people from different religious, financial, and ethnic backgrounds. I did not know who to hang out with, who to talk to, or who to align myself with. Working to learn who I am as I embarked on the high school experience, I felt that maybe I should even hide my own Mexican culture. What I didn’t realize was that many of my peers have similar backgrounds.
Four years later, I recognize that my Mexican identity is what makes me, me. My culture, family, and history inform what I do and who I am. It is a driving force behind my passions—including my interest in teaching. It started when I was 15 and began helping my mom study for her naturalization exam. That’s the process on the path to American citizenship that can take over a year. We studied together all the time, I quizzed her on questions and had her repeat answers over and over until they stuck.
My mom had been living in the US for 18 years at the time, and I wanted her to know she is good enough to become a citizen. I have a deep sense of gratitude for this experience and realize it did not matter that she was born in another country and had a more limited English vocabulary. While it could be frustrating for both of us, I saw her strength and learned about myself and my family. As my mom broadened her knowledge of United States history, it was rewarding to help provide my own insight into some of her questions. I played the role of communicator and empowered those around me to clear the barrier language can so often be. Learning to communicate and help others has been so fulfilling throughout this process.
After four years of searching for who I am and what I’m meant to do, I know at least I am proud of my Mexican identity and willing to embrace it with open arms. I will continue to honor those who have passed during Dia De Los Muertos with my family and friends every year, and celebrate Mexican Independence Day every September 16. There is so much more to learn about my own culture that I still have yet to discover, and I encourage others to take a deep look into their own backgrounds in order to reconnect with their roots.
As I look ahead to a potential future in education, I know my fluency in both Spanish and English will help me to communicate with a broader range of people, including first-generation American kids like myself. Being able to educate others not only about my own culture but through a variety of subjects like math and language arts at a young age will help shape the future generation of children into more open-minded individuals.