There is so much culture in El Paso that as a Spanish major, I am ecstatic to explore! There is a museum of art, history, and archaeology. Good thing my husband likes museums, too. In fact, one of our first dates was to the Lakeview Museum. This site has some really awesome pictures of downtown El Paso, including one of an Aztec Calendar. I’ve never seen one of these in person. Heck, I’ve never been to Mexico. A shame, huh? Because of the dangers there and being a military family member, I may not get to go for some time. Bummer.
Because of my career choice (as a teacher, I obviously have an educated and extensively researched commentary on every major problem that plagues this great nation), many people have asked me what I think about illegal immigration, and many students have asked me, “Why do we even have to learn Spanish?” to which I wanted to reply, “If you don’t like it, then why are you in here?!”
This is what I think about illegal immigration from Mexico, or anywhere: it’s illegal. Therefore it’s wrong. I know many people who have come to this country and built their lives here by going through the correct channels. People who come here illegally mar the process of immigration for everyone else. Sure, all our ancestors were immigrants unless you’re Native American, but times have changed… laws have changed.
Why is it important to learn Spanish? Well, besides “needing” it for admission to college (not true; there are many other things that merit admission to college), why not learn another language? When you learn another language, you inevitably learn another culture. Even if you merely study vocabulary of British English, you will learn about Britain’s culture. It enhances one’s outlook on the world and helps in other areas of learning as well.
Suffice it to say that our children will be fluent in at least my two languages. After piano at age 7, Spanish was my second love and I long to pass that on to our children. Besides, if they start young their pronunciation will be lovely and much more native-like than mine. My accent is definitively American + Bolivian + Honduran + Enrique Iglesias (haha, I kid about Enrique).
As far as children go, they are our future. I know that sounds really typical for a teacher to say. We shouldn’t punish the children of illegal immigrants. They had no control over their parents’ actions, and by law if they are born on U.S. soil, they are U.S. citizens. It’s said and done and there’s nothing that we can do about it. There are people of every race, ethnicity and class who take advantage of services provided by our government.
The truth is that El Paso used to be part of Mexico. Boundaries, laws or prejudice cannot remove the Mexican influence, just as generations cannot take away the history passed down to me from my grandpa about my family who came here from, you guessed it, England, to be farmers. Yes, farmers. In Illinois. You can stop chuckling now. No wonder this gringa loves traveling so much…
I’m not going to lie and say I know how to solve any problems facing education today, as they are many. I really did not plan on writing about it in this entry, but I know that all children should have a right to education and to succeed in this country if they so choose (and are legal). It’s sometimes hard for us to see, but the opportunities here despite the current economy are unfathomable.
In conclusion, living in El Paso will be like living in a foreign country to me. The cool thing is, it used to be. According to statistics, El Paso is 80% Hispanic (shocker, right?)… this blonde-hair-blue-eyed-girl-from-the-Midwest-who-really-loves-Spanish-but-is-just-so-white-that-even-the-Europeans[Spaniards]-saw-right-through-me will learn a lot!