On My Way to Success
Adriana I. Rodríguez Morales
University of Puerto Rico in Bayamón
What’s wrong with my language? I was at the Orlando, Florida Airport. I got very hungry I went to buy some food; it was one of those moments in which you could hear your stomach growl. I went to Nathan’s to order and while I was placing my order instead of saying this order is“to go” I said that I wanted to “pick it up”. I freaked out, because I wasn’t sure of what the right thing to say was. Then to make matters worse they didn’t accept debit cards and I only had 10 bucks on my card and the ATM would not let me take less than 20. So I remained hungry through all the flight and felt very embarrassed. This felt like a cold chill that went through your entire spine. Truth betold becoming a bilingual person has been a slow and difficult process for me.
My family knows the importance of knowing English as a second language. This knowledge comes from my grandparents on my mother’s side who had a difficult time in the early 50’s, when they moved to the United States of America and became part of the Puerto Rican movement to leave the Island for a better life inthe States. Here, there biggest limitation was the lack of knowledge of the English language, for this reason they encouraged my mother and aunt to learn English and become bilingual. My parents realized that I needed to learn English, so they were looking for schools with strong English backgrounds. Unfortunately I never ended up on a good bilingual school, so my literacy level never improved. Iended up studying in Colegio Nuestra Señora de la Caridad where they didn’t care about the English language. I never related school to my process in learning the English language, for me it was just something that I wanted, but more than a desire, I felt it to be a must. I decided to put the responsibility of being a bilingual person on my shoulders. My best friend of childhood, Maria Conchitaspoke English because most of her families were Cuban immigrants that established themselves in the United States. Hearing her speak with her cousins and reading English magazines made me envy her. I wanted to be like her! I wanted to speak English with her same fluency! I never gave up… I never stopped wanting to be bilingual, and in my efforts to become bilingual, I started reading magazines,watching movies without Spanish subtitles and listening to music, even though I couldn’t understand it.
But this process wasn’t over yet. Let’s say it was only starting. And when it really began was when my grandmother decided to take me for a third time to Orlando, Florida to visit our family that lives there. Obviously, all my family there speaks English because they have been living there formany years, or because they were born there and what is considered as our second language for them is considered as their first. So my cousins did not know how to speak in Spanish, so that was my biggest opportunity, having the responsibility to learn and let my language flow through the conversations, even explaining how the sweet smell of the vanilla custard drove me crazy. In some way it was veryexciting hearing them talking and picturing me going and having these fluent conversations like any American. Living with my family in Orlando during the summer time made me feel like my literacy increased a lot more, and the more I learned, the more I wanted to keep on learning. It was my goal to know how to speak English fluently and to finally be bilingual.
When getting back from my trip toOrlando, I broke my friendship of years with my best friend Maria Conchita. This experience opened my eyes and made me give value to what definitely deserves it. In the end I accomplished what I wanted, to be friends with the “popular girls”, this is when I met my new best friend, now more than a friend my sister Carla or as we call her “Carlita” even though she was no to nice in that time,...