I was born Hispanic

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Describe any experience of cultural difference, positive or negative, you have had or observed. What did you learn from it?
“My girlfriend…you know the tall brunette, well she swore he was just a friend… but when…”
“Be quiet, Matt. I’m trying to teach.” Quivering with impatience, the words had absolutely no effect.
“No! Hold on…I’m not finished yet.” Returning to his tragic love story, Matt faced me and the rest of the table, his loyal listeners.
Yet again the teacher interrupts. “Matt do we have a problem?” It was more of a threatening command than a concerned questioned.
Annoyed, he replies, “Yeah we do. You won’t let me finish.”
“Come see me after school.”
There wasn’t a day when the teacher wasn’t disrespected, talked back to, and simply ignored. This was expected of the Hispanic students; the lack of respect for education, the expectation that they wouldn’t amount to much in school. But in Sophomore English those degraded values and flimsy ideas towards education and its impact was almost every kid’s mindset. Each student contributed graying attitudes and negligence that weaved a unique environment. A class culture that impacted me as much as my Hispanic culture did concerning what role education would play in my life.
I never was exposed to people who valued education. Of course, I saw Caucasian kids who planned to go to college, but they were...well, they didn’t have an accent. They didn’t have immigrant parents who depending on me for translating. They weren’t expected to be pregnant at sixteen or jumped into a gang. None of it. They had parents who spoke English fluently and who paid them for their grades. They were expected to attend college. They were expected to fulfill the American Dream. Yet, in sophomore English, it didn’t really matter what race, background you were. Everyone there hated English. Despite this common ground, I stayed close to mis amigas. Within my comfort zone, I watched the blond girl sitting next to me bring vodka, usually on Mondays because she was still hung-over from the weekend. I wondered if I should say anything when I saw the homegurl toss marijuana out the class room window to the homeboy waiting outside. Education meant nothing to them at all. Despite being exposed to this, I didn’t perfectly assimilate like the ten other failing students did, but it affected what goals I had. I struggled even seeing myself at community college. At the end of the year, the teacher advised me to take AP Language and Composition as a junior. She also offered it to two of my friends. We agreed.
Liars! My friends had dropped the class. Walking into AP English, I felt highlighted in that room. Further into that period, just the way these students talked and acted was already intimidatingly different from last year. They participated in class discussions. They did homework. They fretted about their grades. Most of them had taken Honors Sophomore English, the one where there weren’t hung-over students bringing vodka. They practice fierce academic vocabulary. Last year they just cussed hella. Isolated both ethnically and intellectually, I wanted to drop the class but stuck it out. This scholarly culture valued education, despite their financial or ethnic background, respected education as their sacred road to rewarding future. During group discussions, I found out that my different perspective as a Hispanic student could also contribute ideas or values or unearth details.
Seeing fellow Hispanic students focus academically and succeed in an AP class culture helped me assimilate into obtaining an AP mindset where education is in the limelight. In my Hispanic peers, I watched unfolding success when society foretold failure. I was born Hispanic, but I wasn’t born into a failing stereotype. I embrace my roots, my different yet enlightening perspective, but I refuse to tolerate any limitations. I will guard my education, planting it in promising academic soil, an environment rich and diverse where I will be able to grow as I did in my AP Language and Literature class





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