SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2015       Personal Memory Ethnographies

Blanca Madrid

Como te llamas?

Both my parents migrated from Durango, Mexico. My father was born and raised on a farm, so he had no education at all. He cannot read or write anything other than his own name. On the other hand, my mother went to school, she was able to get her high school diploma in Mexico. Spanish was my first language until I began school. I started pre-school only knowing Spanish, but I assumed everyone would know Spanish. Little did I know that I was very wrong.

The year was 1999, and a new bill had just been passed in Phoenix, Arizona that requires an ID to be shown at the polls. On this date it was also my first day of school. My mom and I walked there because the school was literally across the street from our house. My mom was able to find my classroom very easily. When we went into the classroom, we got to meet my teachers who both spoke Spanish. I remember being one of the first students in the classroom, so my mom and I got to talk to my teachers for a while.

Then I said my goodbyes to my mom, and waited patiently for my other classmates to arrive. I was sitting on a rug that had the letter B on it. Not even two minutes later about three or four students walked in. I remember clearly a boy named David. He was the next one to join me on this huge rug with letters, he sat on the rug with the letter D. David was shorter than I was, but he spoke Spanish so we quickly became friends. Then a girl in a pink summer dress sat right in between David and I, because her name started with a C. I asked her “hola como te llamas”? Which means, “hi, what’s your name”, the girl looked at me confused and unsure on how to react. Then she spoke to David, but he understood English so they talked and talked. That was the moment I realized not everyone spoke Spanish like at my house, and not everyone had brown skin. I realized I was different when I couldn’t communicate with everyone in my classroom.

These were also the years when my family realized that achieving the American dream would not be as easy as they thought it would be. My parents were trying to become citizens, when a new law passed once again. In 2006, the Arizona legislature ruled that it is a state crime to be in the country illegally and police officers are allowed to question an individual's immigration status.

When I was about eight years old, it was more obvious to me that my parents were struggling in order to make ends meet. My parents and siblings were cutting lawns in order for us to have food on the table. My whole family, which includes my five siblings and both parents, were living in fear, because they knew all it would take was an officer to ask for an ID and all six of us born in the U.S would be left with no parents. In 2010, the SB 1070 was passed by the Arizona legislature. The toughest anti-immigrant legislation in the nation, SB 1070 intensified the climate of fear, especially from American immigrant families like mine. I was now fourteen, and my father and mother had gotten their US visas.

However, now the issue was that my dad’s or mom’s visas could be taken away if they were caught with one of our many family members who was still illegal. So we all continued to live in fear and we always made the right choices in order to project all of us. In 2011, my father became a United State citizen and my mother was next to get her citizenship.

Every day when I see my parents I am reminded of the struggles they and we all went through in order to stay as a family in the United States. When I leave my house I see people of other colors, races, and cultures and it takes me back to my first day of school. Little did I know, that by speaking Spanish and having parents from another country I would have more struggles in life.

This was my childhood, life, and story. But of course there are always two sides to every situation when more than two people are involved, so here is my classmate's Chloe’s story.

My name is Chloe I was born in 1994, I am an only child to Kayla and Jimmy. Both of my parents are from South Dakota, but we recently moved to Phoenix, Arizona. I had gone to pre-school before but going into kindergarten was a big deal for both my family and me.

            The night before my first day of school I could not sleep. My parents had sent me to bed at 8pm. Since I could not sleep I picked out my entire outfit and left it on my dresser so I wouldn’t be late in the morning. I remember counting out loud that night until I fell asleep. The next morning I woke up extra early and got myself dressed. I thought I looked very nice. Once I was done, my mother walked into my room and was shocked that I was awake and ready for school. However, my outfit was not what she had planned for me, so she changed me and we went for breakfast before school at IHOP.

            My mother dropped me off in my new classroom at 8:25am. I was so excited that I didn’t ask my mother to stay with me. I remember walking into the classroom so excited because all my new friends were already there. My teacher told me to find my spot and sit in the circle with everyone else, I had to find the letter C. I quickly found my spot on the circle, and there were two other kids already sitting by my letter. I was so happy, until I sat down and the girl next to me asked me questions that I didn’t understand. I was so confused, I had never had anyone speak to me this way. This girl was wearing a dress that was nice but it did look old and as if
 it had been used for a while now. The girl seemed so nice and I wanted to be her friend, but I couldn’t become her friend because I could not understand her and she could not understand me.

When two children are put in the same place, it does not mean they will become friends right away. But it is does not mean that they will hate each other either. Both Chloe and I come from very different cultural backgrounds and settings. Something so little as the first day of kindergarten was life changing to me but to Chloe but it was just another day.

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