Fieldnote, 2 Oct. 2012

Helped one student, fourth grade Aracelis with her spelling words. We looked words up together in a dictionary and she wrote sentences with them. Some of the words were fairly simple, things like fuzz and splat for example. I noticed Aracelis had difficulty sounding out vowels, or relying on English phonics for making guesses when composing the corresponding vowel symbols. For “beat” she used “bit”; she confused the Spanish phonic “i” with that of the English phonic combination of long “e”.

I made this note to her, about the two systems. She said, “I know how to write in Spanish. I sent to second grade in Mexico.”

“En que parte?”

“Reynosa. Conoces Reynosa?”

“Yo, no, no mucho. Pero yo se donde esta. Esta en el estado de Tamaulipas, verdad? Cerca de la frontera.”

“Si, si.”

“I’ve never been there though.”

“It’s very bad there.”

“Why?”

“Because lots of people get killed there. That’s why we moved.”

……………………

–Speaking with Fatima and Sean before we left. Sean is clearly not Mexicano. He is friends with Fatima and he claims he wants to learn Spanish.

“Why?”

“Because I like Mexican girls.” He looks at Fatima. “But not her though.”

“Better not,” she says.

Fatima speaks of things older than her age of 11. She refers to a cousin in Mexico had emigrated to Lexington “because her boyfriend was sleeping with somebody else.”

She used the term “hadded”; I recognized the local non-standard English usage. S corrected Fatima, but I didn’t.

Fatima was doing a project on Native Americans and the language of a tribe from Virginia. I asked her about Native Americans in Mexico. She laughed. There are none. Then I asked her if she had heard of the Aztecs. She hadn’t

In NY, the students at MANOS had units dedicated to the Maya and Aztecs. I noticed something with pride happening in these students as they learned about ancient Mexican history in their classes.

Fatima seems to be one student who enjoys speaking to me, and I feel that the initial attention I demonstrated about culture previously interested her.

This evening she asked S if she was Mexican. “No,” she said. “Latina.”

“That’s like Mexican, but different,” she said.

“Why?”

“It’s like not as brownish white, it’s like different.”

“What color are you?”

“Brownish white, like brown and white.”

“And what color am I?”

“Well you’re brown too.”

“We’re both Latinas, but it doesn’t matter what color we are because Latinas come in all colors.”

I turned the discussion back to Fatima’s Native American project. This turned into the history of the Mexican “mestizo” culture, and the variances of colors from gueros to darker Mexicans, the mixture of European and indigenous blood.

“I never knew that,” she said. “That’s brown people.”

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