Reflections (Culture is a way of life)

“I’m afraid to grow up and forget about my culture,” said my son. I responded by saying that the fact that he is conscious about maintaining a connection to his culture means that he will never lose it. That’s something that can never be taken away from you, I tell him.

Since he was a toddler and even before then, I’ve exposed him to my culture (Mexican-American) and to other cultures as well. I’ve taught him that we are all part of this world and understanding one’s culture and other cultures will lead to understanding one another, among other benefits. Yes, I am a hippie and I think all cultures are beautiful.

I think that Leo is so immersed in his culture that he doesn’t even realize that he is. It’s just simply a way of life for him. I explained to him that for me, culture is not something that I can turn on and off, but a way of life. I carry my culture with me. Even in my facial features, my culture is evident. I am a mestiza. I am a Chicana.

From different forms of Latino music from different countries, food, theater, art, poetry, language – my son has been exposed to all of this. I don’t think he knows or understands what it is to live without celebrating culture in one’s life. He probably thinks that everybody lives like this. We are not special, but as a parent, I’ve always made an effort to keep culture alive in our home. I wanted Leo to grow up with an appreciation of his cultural roots.

My parents once told me that I didn’t realize that I was Mexican-American until I left Crystal City, my hometown. Growing up, almost everyone was Mexican-American, we spoke Spanglish, listened to Tejano music, danced to Selena, etc. I was so Chicana that I didn’t realize that I was Chicana until I went through a bit of a culture clash when I first entered The University of Texas at Austin. I had classmates that even made fun of the way I pronounced Spanish surnames, because I said them with an accent en español. What country are we living in? I thought. I had never been made fun of before for being different from mainstream. Luckily, I found others who didn’t make fun of the way that I spoke and I made my own path at that enormous university that I grew to love.

How naïve I was then, but I’ve learned that it's important to stay firm in your beliefs and hold on to your culture, even when faced with those who may challenge you. You are who you are. Don’t forget. I want my son to pass on what I’ve taught him to his children and so forth. I trust that I’ve raised my son well enough for him to take pride in his culture and who he is.

I thank my grandmothers for making me speak to them in Spanish when I was a kid, even when I didn’t want to. That’s your language, they would say. I didn’t understand back then, but I am eternally grateful now. Wherever your family comes from, celebrate your roots and pass them down to your children. They will thank you for it later.

 
Priscilla Rice is an actor, poet, mother and aspiring samba dancer. She studied Broadcast Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin and has worked as a radio news/traffic reporter and assignment editor for various television stations. She currently works as an interpreter/translator. She is originally from Crystal City, TX and resides in Dallas with her son, Leo.
 

Since he was a toddler and even before then, I’ve exposed him to my culture (Mexican-American) and to other cultures as well. I’ve taught him that we are all part of this world and understanding one’s culture and other cultures will lead to understanding one another, among other benefits. Yes, I am a hippie and I think all cultures are beautiful.

I think that Leo is so immersed in his culture that he doesn’t even realize that he is. It’s just simply a way of life for him. I explained to him that for me, culture is not something that I can turn on and off, but a way of life. I carry my culture with me. Even in my facial features, my culture is evident. I am a mestiza. I am a Chicana.

From different forms of Latino music from different countries, food, theater, art, poetry, language – my son has been exposed to all of this. I don’t think he knows or understands what it is to live without celebrating culture in one’s life. He probably thinks that everybody lives like this. We are not special, but as a parent, I’ve always made an effort to keep culture alive in our home. I wanted Leo to grow up with an appreciation of his cultural roots.

My parents once told me that I didn’t realize that I was Mexican-American until I left Crystal City, my hometown. Growing up, almost everyone was Mexican-American, we spoke Spanglish, listened to Tejano music, danced to Selena, etc. I was so Chicana that I didn’t realize that I was Chicana until I went through a bit of a culture clash when I first entered The University of Texas at Austin. I had classmates that even made fun of the way I pronounced Spanish surnames, because I said them with an accent en español. What country are we living in? I thought. I had never been made fun of before for being different from mainstream. Luckily, I found others who didn’t make fun of the way that I spoke and I made my own path at that enormous university that I grew to love.

How naïve I was then, but I’ve learned that it's important to stay firm in your beliefs and hold on to your culture, even when faced with those who may challenge you. You are who you are. Don’t forget. I want my son to pass on what I’ve taught him to his children and so forth. I trust that I’ve raised my son well enough for him to take pride in his culture and who he is.

I thank my grandmothers for making me speak to them in Spanish when I was a kid, even when I didn’t want to. That’s your language, they would say. I didn’t understand back then, but I am eternally grateful now. Wherever your family comes from, celebrate your roots and pass them down to your children. They will thank you for it later.

 
Priscilla Rice is an actor, poet, mother and aspiring samba dancer. She studied Broadcast Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin and has worked as a radio news/traffic reporter and assignment editor for various television stations. She currently works as an interpreter/translator. She is originally from Crystal City, TX and resides in Dallas with her son, Leo.