Mi Cultura, Mi Gente, Mi País: Why the Pride?

When her first daughter was born, she had a sudden desire to raise her in the same manner that she was: immersed in Puerto Rican traditions. She spoke to her in Spanish. Her husband–as someone who grew up in a very Anglo, English-only lifestyle–didn’t understand why she was trying to keep these traditions alive in her life and her children’s upbringing.

We are Americans. We speak English. Why separate yourselves? He asked.

Do you remember the sweet smell of your grandmother’s cooking? She asked. Or of your mother’s perfume? The sound of your father’s records playing in the distance?

I love hearing my friend describe the love and joy she has for her heritage.

As a Peruvian-American married to a man of Italian-Irish descent, I’ve come to appreciate our vastly different backgrounds. Growing up, my family kitchen smelled of rich spices, dinner was where she shared family cuentos (stories). The air was soaked with Latin rhythm, as dancing and singing were a common part of our family gatherings. And yes, as babies, we girls had our ears pierced within weeks of birth!

As Americans, we live in a country filled with so much promise and opportunities. We also live in a globalized world where cultural insight and bilingualism are extremely advantageous and frankly a necessity.

We want to impress upon our daughter the importance of heritage and of pride. As her mother, I teach her the importance of the familia, of her fuerza (strength), and above all, to siga adelante (keep going, move forward, carry on). I share with her mi cultura so she can take with her, as I have, a sense of belonging to something greater than oneself. And to find comfort in knowing she is deeply rooted in something so rich.

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