What impresses me about Celerina and the Zapotecs
I have met is their pride and resolve to stay loyal to
their roots and their culture. Sure they are Mexican,
but they never stop being Zapotecs. Their first
language is Zapoteco. It is the language that they
teach their children and continue to speak at home.
children grow up feeling this pride, this commitment.
They never question their identity and they seem to
accept their heritage with such ease.
I find this interesting because I too grew up in a bicultural environment.
My parents are both Mexican. I was raised in the US with
Mexican ideals, and Spanish was my first language. However
I, unlike Celerina, felt very conflicted by this. As
a child I was almost embarrassed by the fact that my
parents didn't speak English well. I hated the fact that
I was different from everyone else. I really wanted to
And to be American, I felt I had to stop being Mexican. So
I did. I began by not speaking Spanish. My family would
speak to me in Spanish and I would respond in English.
I carried on with this throughout my childhood. Yes,
it's difficult to hide from what you really are. Trying
to be a non-Mexican, real American took up way too
much energy, particularly since no one else in my family felt
as I did; I not only had to cover for myself but for
them also. It wasn't until I started taking Spanish classes in high
that I began to appreciate the language. It was through
the language that I began to open my heart again to
the thought of being Mexican. The language was the key to
this world. I slowly opened my eyes to the beauty of
this other culture, one that I had been running away
from all my life.
This journey has been full of discoveries.
It wasn't until I began spending a lot of time in Mexico
that I felt the richness of the culture. I really felt
like I belonged. It was then that I began to feel grateful
for my situation; how lucky I was to have two distinct
cultures to draw from. I felt proud to be Mexican,
but no less proud to be an American. It was then that
I discovered the truth about myself, that because I was raised in the US and educated
here I am an American, but really my heart, my soul will forever be Mexican.