Thursday, February 18, 2010

Going beyond my circle

I am in my fourth year of journalism, and as long as I've known Mr. Bott, he's always wanted his students to look beyond their circle. I had always assumed that going beyond my circle would be getting out of my comfort zone, which is what he has always asked, and I've always done just that. But recently, I didn't just go beyond my circle, I went beyond my culture. I walked in the shoes of someone who is apart of me, but lives the life I was never accustomed to. Her name is Franci, and she doesn't speak english yet I do. She speaks spanish, the language I lack an understanding of, yet I am half mexican.

For this upcoming issue, we're doing a features package on students with different cultures on our campus. We're focusing on students who have what the average American likes to call, an "unsual" lifestyle. Their life at school seems perfectly normal, but when they go home, it's completely different from the average American's life. The differences vary from language to food, to praying and celebrating, to taking that first step into their home and realizing that they live in a unique place in America. As an American, I've grown accustomed to school, homework, sports practice, fast food, my cell phone and all the popular websites we teens obsess about.

I hadn't planned on writing for this package, but my co-Editor-in-Chief, Sam, asked me to write a story with her, and I couldn't refuse. Sam and I have been working together for four years, but throughout this year, we've done everything together, therefore making our relationship stronger. She, as well as Franci, speaks spanish, and yet again, I still do not. When we first interviewed Franci, we introduced ourselves and Sam began speaking to her in spanish. I was standing there waiting to understand something, maybe Franci talk to me in english, BUT she never did due to the fact that she's only been here 8 months and only knows spanish! Out of ALL the interviews I have ever done within the four years I've been in journalism, I have never interviewed someone who didn't know english. So I began to question myself: Was I REALLY going out of my comfort zone all these years? Well, yes. But now, my circle just got even bigger.

The coolest part about this is that I have no idea what Sam is asking Franci! Hell, they could be talking about me and I'd have no clue. But that's the coolest part. Why is that cool? Because it was my first interview in ANOTHER language, and I wasn't afraid of looking dumb because I didn't understand what they were saying! We all experience things to understand what we don't know, and that tests our initiative to want to learn more, and I swear that is so awesome to me. To see my co EIC interview her in their language was amazing, because I've never heard Sam hold a conversation in spanish, let alone interview AND take notes in anything other than english. The only thing I could do was listen, listen harder then I ever have in an interview before. Being half mexican and not knowing spanish has never hurt me, until now. I wish I would have had my father, whose first language is spanish, teach me spanish. And I wish I could spend more time with that side of my family to understand where half of me comes from. Because if Franci can begin her life at 16 years old in America and attempt to learn english, what in the world is holding me back from learning spanish when it's always been in front of me, and will always be apart of me? I know what it is in the world - it's comfort. I've been too comfortable my entire life with just knowing english...
Until now.

Walking into her home where her parents only know spanish made me feel like an outsider, even though they treated me as equally as Sam. But I continued to feel as if something were missing. It was the fact that I was welcomed into a home, where I knew close to nothing about how they lived. I sat back and observed. I caught myself being attracted to items in their home that I have always seen before, but never really paid any attention to until now, when I am expected to see ask about these differences. I can say that nothing about this family was too "unusual". It was rather, perfect, like a family should be. A mother, a father, a sibling? That's not the difference of a Spanish family compared to American family. What I consider to be different here is how Franci's family grows, learns, and lives together. They are bonded by who they are, not trying to conform into what the stereotype of an American family should be. To this day, I can ask: what IS the typical American family? ... Exactly, I couldn't figure it out either. Or maybe you did, but I still cannot. American's these day seem to get too wrapped up in trying to represent something, trying to live "normal", or trying to be something they're just not.

And what's "normal"? Because we're all different, yet we all claim to be normal and point fingers and say "he/she's abnormal". Well guess what, we're all weird and "unusual". Someone is always going to think you're different, and that's what is normal; is that we are all different.

If only everyone could peek into someone else's window and observe their life, maybe we'd be more open-minded. I mean, we live in Stockton; we're as diverse as it gets. You can look to your left and their will most likely be someone who is NOT your ethnicity, or maybe look to your right and I guarentee they won't be wearing the same outift as you; because maybe, just maybe, their image at school is not as important as their culture at home.

Im just saying: Before you look beyond your circle, observe who is around you, and ask yourself, “what is their story?” …

Because we are all surrounded by differences.

1 comment:

  1. A very thoughtful post, Arianna. Here are a couple of quotes that you might like:

    "Do at least one thing every day that scares you."
    --Eleanor Roosevelt

    "The only true wisdom lies in knowing that you know nothing." (loosely translated from Latin)