Hispanic Heritage Month Ideas: Hispanic Day
In Spain we celebrate el Día de la Hispanidad (Hispanic Day) on October 12. As the years have gone by, this day has gained real meaning for me.
I was born and raised in Seville, Spain, and for many years my world was confined to the limits of this wonderful city. It wasn't until I moved to the U.S. with my husband (then my boyfriend), at the age of 19, that I began to explore foreign lands.
In three years I will have spent half of my life with my American husband and half of my life as a Spanish American.
After all these years, my identity as a Spaniard has grown stronger in spite of—or because of?—having become an American.
My husband and I are raising our children to be bilingual and bicultural. We are not just Spanish, we are not just American, but we are Spanish and American, and we feel fortunate for it.
My son Luke, 3, can look at a world map and tell you where his grandparents and uncle live. He says "Tevilla" because he still pronounces the letter "S" as if it were a "T." He is excited about our next trip and mentions our family in Spain almost every day. Trips back and forth from both sides have kept the extended family close. My 2-year-old daughter, Anisa, understands as much Spanish as English.
As they get older though, the challenge of maintaining true bilingualism in the family has become tougher. Their environment results in much more exposure to English than Spanish, and I have noticed how they use ever more English than Spanish between themselves and when responding to me, even though I speak to them only in Spanish.
Recently I decided to put an end to this new tendency. I figured the sooner I tackle the issue, the better the chance that it wouldn't become a habit. I have a friend whose 7-year-old and 5-year-old speak to her only in perfect Spanish—even though they speak to each other in English. If she can do it, so can I!
So I asked Luke to please speak in Spanish to Mami (Mommy) because that's her language. I told him that Spanish is also the language of el abuelo, la abuela, el tito Juampi. ... Well, if he wasn't swayed by the thought of speaking Spanish to me, reminding him of our family in Spain seemed to do the trick. He adores his grandparents and uncle and he surely wants to be able to communicate with them. Plus, if that's their language, he wants that language to be his, too.
In the last few days, I've clearly noticed how he's responding to me in Spanish more often again ... although not quite entirely yet. I know that I have to be persistent, but it's important enough to me that I don't think it'll be a problem.
¡Feliz Día de la Hispanidad a todos!
Thanks to Marta Silva.