Tag Archives: latina

So how’s Goal Two going?

“Soy primeramente Boricua, Americana Segunda.”

Those words are pretty important to me when people ask about my background, since many still struggle to understand that Puerto Rico is part of the United States. It translates to “I am Puerto Rican first, American second.” and while that sounds more harsh in English it’s just our explanation that we love our island, and align with our culture more than the American culture.

So when I explain to people at my site that I am Puerto Rican most don’t even know where that is. So I pull out my trusty little phone map and show them that it is off the coast of Florida, then I explain further and say that the USVI is also part of America, just further out. This helps many understand the concept much more, and even when they don’t fully understand it most just say “Okay.” and move on from the subject. They know that I am still the volunteer that they signed up for, and I feel happy because I got to share my culture for a bit.

What else has been done to share my Puerto Rican side, well some methods are very low-key. As simple as making my classroom playlist consist of albums like “Marc Anthony for Babies”, some students enjoy it, while others don’t know what to make of it. Even when I’m getting ready and hanging out in my classroom most of the visitors are welcomed by some form of salsa, bomba y plena, or reggaeton. Then for the adults when we are out on the town and they want to cheers we take the second to learn how to cheers in English, and in Spanish, saying loudly and for the first couple of tries messing it up. But at the end of the night everyone is saying “Arriba, Abajo, Al Centro, Pa Dentro!”

Then there’s other times where my Puerto Rican influence goes all out. It’s going to take a killer experience to overshadow the night that my host family and I gathered in the kitchen to make Mofongo and Coquito. With my aunt and I managing the Pilon, my Yai handling the fryer, and my mom peeling all the plantains, it was a wonderful time where I got to explain to my family how Puerto Rican culture is. Why we use plantains in most of our food, what else do Puerto Ricans eat? Why is mofongo called mofongo? and one question that had nothing to do with food but I could tell was driving them crazy since day one I told them I was Puerto Rican. What is Puerto Rico? No matter how odd the question was I answered it, and shared my culture and stories with them. Did they enjoy the mofongo you may ask? No they didn’t really care for it, they wanted spicier food and that got answered with “Most Puerto Rican food isn’t spicy”

I am a Puerto Rican first, an American second, in Thailand. The joy of travel is the sharing of cultures and I’m happy to be in a country so intrigued by mine, I can’t wait to share more and see the connections that it can make. Who knows maybe my school will have the first Bomba Club in Thailand.

Con Sabai Sabai

What do you get when you mix Thai enthusiasm with Puerto Rican zest? You get a wild cooking night.

So this past week the Peace Corps 131 had American Day, a lovely day meant to share our culture with our Thai Families. I took this opportunity to show my family one of my favorite foods. Mofongo. Now if you’ve ever even met a Puerto Rican you’ve probably heard of this dish but for those who haven’t it’s mashed plantains (or unripe bananas because Thailand doesn’t have plantains), seasoned with an abundance of garlic and onion, deep fried and covered with olive oil or garlic butter. All together it’s absolutely delicious.

So I assumed that my family wouldn’t want to cook this because of how labor intensive it is but I was so pleased to come home to my host mom, host aunt and grandmother all at the ready. Mom peeled the bananas, grandma handled the fryer, and auntie mashed. We talked for around 6 hours while making around 50 mofongos. I explained how the dish came to be and they laughed at the pronunciation each time I said it. We giggled about how our boobs would sag if we spent too much time mashing the plantains.

All together it was a wonderful experience and reminded me how thankful I am to have such a fantastic host family. It truly completes the experience and they will always have a special place in my heart for being able to welcome this strange Puerto Rican into their home.

So today…

So today my Peace Corps group had the chance to meet the Governor of our Province where we are doing our Pre-Service Training. Everyone was practicing how to introduce themselves correctly this week because when it’s in Thai it’s no longer as simple as “Hi, My name is….” we aren’t Eminem after all. Our introductions include formally saying our first name, last name, city, state and country and formal ending determined by your gender, in the correct order and tones (since Thai is a tonal language one tone off and you could offend someone).

So we all took our turns and as I see my groups go I feel pride for each one. But most of all I feel pride for the Latinos, here we are so far from our home and culture and we all sympathize with one another and appreciate each other because by speaking Spanish we can bring ourselves home if only for a moment. Each of us went, sounding slightly off because transitioning from Thai to Spanish is quite the feat, but as Ortega, Santos, and Puentes speak I feel a sense of unity and knowing that we have each other in this. We may struggle learning Thai but we’ve all been through this before, some learning English, others with Spanish, but we all rejoice in knowing at the end of this we will be poly lingual.

Why is the Latino Pride so important? I feel Latino pride so heavily that I’ve even been accused of self segregation. The truth of the matter is whether it be intentional or not there is a certain behavior and mannerisms that can be observed in each racial group. White Americans (from my observations), tend to put a happy face on and appear friendly with every group, but they are the ones that are just as quick to turn and gossip about you. While in some cases Americans are seen as direct, they’re not. With that said most every time I spend time with White Americans I find myself confused as they both insult and compliment one another. However, with Latinos what you see is what you get, that is especially true with Latinas, we are queens of giving honest, rough truths. We are queens of observing, and giving our opinions and moreover we are queens of saying our truths in the most clever way. Does this make us many friends? No. Do we care? Not really. But the friends we do have stick with us through thick and thin. Do all of these instances stand true? Not really, but based on my observations it’s what I believe. I have had white friends that mean the world to me, but I have also had Latino friends that I can’t stand. So with that said, it’s not always a “race thing” it’s a this is who I choose to associate myself with thing.

Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres.

Spanish Proverb, y tu Madre.