¿Mande?


I just received a very disturbing phone call. Well, maybe not all that disturbing, but it made me think. A Mexican female–I could tell by her accent when she spoke Spanish–called and asked for Señor Rodríguez? Señor David Rodríguez? At first, I thought it was one of the Spanish TAs asking about a solution to a problem while teaching at UIC. But I didn’t know this woman at all. Our entire conversation was in Spanish. The more I spoke as I answered her questions in Spanish, the more engaged she became in our conversation. Then, she asked me if I spoke English. If I was bilingual. I answered yes and yes. In fact, I told her, I was very fluent in English. She sounded very disappointed. I guess I spoke Spanish well enough for her to think that I didn’t speak English. Apparently she was trying to gather students for an ESL class. I think I hurt her feelings because I spoke English–but not to her. This comes as quite a surprise to me because for my entire life almost everyone I ever met insisted that I speak English. And today I finally met someone who was disappointed that I already spoke English.

Are you discriminating against me because I speak English?

English


I'm visiting! I plan on going back to Mexico!

I have met a lot of Mexicans in Chicago who talk about going back to live in Mexico someday. My mother always said she was moving back to Mexico, but never did. Because of their close proximity to the U.S., many Mexicans, even those living in Mexico, feel it’s important to learn English and know a little about their northern neighbors. How many Americans have such an attitude about Mexico and Mexicans? When I was in Mexico, a lot of people knew several phrases in English. Many Mexicans had studied English in school at some point in their lives. Several of my relatives were fluent in English and they spoke English quite well. I was actually very surprised by this. And it’s not like they’re ever planning on moving to the U.S. Actually, they’re quite happy in Mexico. In fact, I met several Mexicans who had moved to the U.S. and didn’t like living here. So they moved back because they missed their family and Mexico. Most Mexicans want to live in Mexico.

Speak English! You're talking to an American!