I was recently reading a book titled “The Namesake”. It’s a story about a first generation Indian man and his family. I thought it was interesting because I could relate to the scenarios, being the first generation American on my Mom’s side (even though she is Mexican and not Indian).
Tell me about what it’s like for you, being a first generation American.
Tell me about cultural differences between your parents and yourself.
Do you feel you have to help your parents out a lot, in regards to cultural differences?
If your parents speak a different language and you plan on having children, will you teach them it?
Do you see your culture slowly drifting away with each generation or does your family hold tight to customs, still?
My mom has been in this country for over 30 years. In some ways, having grown up close to the border, the American way of life is not a complete shock. My mom would prefer to live in 1950’s Mexico, given a choice. I think it is hard for her to come to grips that while living here, Mexico has changed A LOT since she was there. The Mexico she grew up in is gone, and she has told me that sometimes she feels coutry-less. She speaks English well but still has a strong accent. Idioms still confuse her. She once asked me, in ernest, why my dad said he was going to hit the hay (you have to know that she has chickens and really does have hay outside)…that sort of thing.
I hate it when people make fun of her accent. I don’t think they realize how hard it is to pick up a new language during your 20’s. She may have an accent, but hey, she knows TWO languages!
I think that, being the only girl, I am very protective of her. Perhaps, more than I should be. Now that I am a mom, I have even more respect for her because I could not imagine moving to, say, India, and raise three children.
My brother did not teach his son to speak Spanish (why I do not know. His wife is Hispanic, too). I think he regrets it now. His daughter does speak Spanish, but only with my mom. My nephew started out like that, but once he went to school he lapsed. I can understand that, though, because when I went away to college, I found my Spanish atrophing as well.
I have every intention of teaching my daughter Spanish. I buy a lot of books and DVDS in Spanish and speak to her. I tell my mom that I would prefer if she only spoke Spanish. I still worry that she will not be fluent. English is my primary language now because I don’t know of anyone outside of the family that speaks Spanish. IMO, most people here in the DFW metroplex that are not directly from Mexico (or a spanish speaking country) do not speak Spanish well/correctly or basically prefer to speak English.
I just think its a shame when younger generations lose out on their culture. My dad’s side of the family is from Poland and I know almost nothing of their culture. I wish I knew more. His family came over during a period in American history where you assimulated fast.
Don’t get me wrong, I am proud to be an American. I just think it is important to know where you came from.