I am really excited to be invited to be a guest blogger for Latina Ed Tech Educator. It is not an old cliché but it is certainly a reality that being a Hispanic Educator in the U.S. offers a different perspective for educational settings. As teachers, we strive to create a learning environment where all students feel free to express and learn from each other’s identities. There is inherent passion in being a Latina educator in the United States. We have faced the challenges, some of us have grown up poor and we see education as the only way to improve our lives. We are passionate about education and helping English Language Learners and students of poverty because we were once there. As a second language learner, many Latina educators know what it feels like to sit in a classroom where you understand half of what is being taught; we know what it is like to be among people who make fun of you because you don’t speak English well or because you have an accent; and we also know what it is like to live in a place where you always try to fit in. In the movie Stand and Deliver with Edward James Olmos, the main character states that we, Latinos in the U.S., have to work twice as hard. We need to speak English well but we also need to speak Spanish well and we need to fit within two cultures. He ends his statement by saying: “It is exhausting!”
When I was a professor at the School for Foreign Students in Mexico City at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), I had a student that considered himself to be a Chicano. He was born in the United States in a Mexican family who always talked to him about the wonders of having Mexican roots. His family had idealized their Mexican roots therefore this student’s dream was to go live in Mexico for a few months to discover his roots. After a few weeks in Mexico City he was devastated. He confided in me that he was distraught and disappointed. People in Mexico City were cruel to him. He looked Mexican but his Spanish was broken. People were rude to him and continuously made fun of his lack of fluency skills in Spanish.
As a Latina educator, I advocate for teachers to go beyond the stereotypes and the popular culture and traditions of a specific place. If we advocate a multicultural approach to education we need to step beyond the clichés. It is our responsibility to offer an honest perspective of the current state of the culture that we will be teaching in the classroom. Even though it is true that Hispanics eat tacos, listen to Mariachi music, and dance a lot, it is important to take a broader look at who we are in order to avoid stereotypes.