Finding Academic Success Meant Leaving My Language and Culture Behind

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Media Outlet: Voice of San Diego

Storyboard, a collaboration between New America CA and Voice of San Diego, published its first piece:

It was the first day of third grade, and students at my elementary school in Redwood City had just returned from summer break. My friend Fernanda had only been in the United States for about a year, and because she struggled to speak English, I spoke to her in Spanish.
Fernanda and I both stood at an intersection of language and culture. I was simply further along. Because I attended a bilingual elementary school since I was in kindergarten, I could speak both English and Spanish.
I’d just given Fernanda a friendship bracelet when our teacher interrupted.
“Don’t talk to her in Spanish,” the teacher told me. “It is not allowed. You can only speak English at school now.”