A Bridge Between Two Cultures

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

When I was younger, I treated my bilingualism like a spy gadget. I wore my second language comfortably hidden with a hint of pride. My Spanish proved to be a useful tool for gleaning insight into different cultures. My ears caught a snatch of a vibrant conversation from a group of Mexican women at the grocery store, and I recognized familiar words on the Spanish language radio station during car trips. However, my spy gadget had limitations. The Spanish stayed inside my head, unwilling to manifest itself into a conversation. “En Español” my father would urge. “Why don't you respond to me in Spanish?” I would mutter disagreeably, embarrassed at my inability to find the right words.

The sweet tropical smell of bananas wafted from the kitchen as plátanos sizzled and popped in an oiled skillet. My grandmother’s house is a window into a typical household in Hialeah, Florida, a city where Spanglish is socially acceptable and the influence of Cuban culture is evident on every street corner. That afternoon as I sat in front of the wall of pictures in the living room I observed a painting that hung beside a pious illustration of the Virgin Mary. It was a countryside landscape, full of vibrant greens and blues, highlighting the scorched...

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