Thursday, September 20, 2007

I didn't expect...

...to be a minority in our own local elementary school. Naturally, living in Southern California, our county has a high Hispanic population, but our suburb is more predominately Caucasian. Our home is in an odd pocket of a neighborhood situated between a very affluent area and one that is decidedly less so. All of that to say, I expected that maybe half of the students in Alyssa’s class would look like her that the other half would not. I was wrong. In actuality, she is one of only 4 Caucasians, and two of them are twins – that makes a total of 3 white families! Of course there is nothing wrong with those ratios, but it’s not at all what I thought elementary school would be. For many reasons I am grateful for an ethnically diverse educational environment. I’m glad that Alyssa and Parker will be exposed to different cultures and a new language. I hope they learn how to interact with people who are not just like them, accept and appreciate both their similarities and differences, and maybe even pick up a little Spanish (in addition, of course, to that which they’ve learned from Dora!). I am especially glad that when it’s Reagan’s turn to go to school, she won’t be the only non-white student. However, selfishly, I had hoped that school would provide opportunities for me to get to know and develop a ministry among the other moms. Thus far I’ve found that quite challenging since the majority don’t speak English and yo hablo un poquito Espanol (and yes, my accent is just as bad as my grammer and spelling!). They actually had two different back-to-school nights (one in English, one in Spanish) and a translator on hand for the assembly on the first day. Alyssa’s homework has instructions in both languages, and every flyer that comes home is two-sided. In speaking with moms who have been around longer than I have, I get the impression that it’s almost as if it’s two distinct schools – a kind of de facto segregation. Of course, all of the instruction is in English, and the kids are in no way segregated – even the children from Spanish-speaking homes become bi-lingual very quickly. It’s the parents that are separated by language, and I don’t know what to do about it. Of course, there are other English-speaking moms, and I’m doing my best to reach out to them, but what’s a girl to do? I’d love to say that I would just sit down and learn a new language, but being able to make myself understood and actually developing a friendship based on my ability to communicate in Spanish are two totally different things. Perhaps I should just embrace this as an opportunity to experience a little of what Reagan will face every day of her life. Looking different, feeling different. Or maybe there are other options. Any ideas?

4 comments:

clyde said...

yeah laura thanks for posting this. I know Dan mentioned something about that ratio at church and we weren't surprised. I'm glad that you're open to this setup, since we know others who have chosen other schooling simply because of that ratio.

I wish I had some good answers for you about how to interact with the other parents. You're not alone since many people live in this kind of environment and maybe, just maybe it will help us learn to take the gospel to people outside our groups?

Or you want wait until your daughter teaches you spanish!

piercefam said...

Hey Laura,

I love reading your blog too! I changed your name on my blog. That is a good idea, it is funny how I conciously protect our info and then I didn't even think about protecting the info of my friends...a totally random oversight. Anyway, good to hear from you. We are going to be at Disney in two weeks or so. We'll only be there three days, and it is Chris' whole family all gathering there, so I regret we probably won't have a lot of time...if you have passes or something, we do have extra reservations for Ariel's Grotto for lunch, and there would be room for you all if you wanted to try to meet up.

I am organizing a reunion for Del Sonics for June 28th of 2008. I contacted Mr. Cross and he is excited about it and will be there. It would be really fun if you could make it! I'm sure you'd have other, more conveniently located offers, but our house has room for you if you want to come and need somewhere to stay.

I can't believe how big Regan is getting. She is so adorable. We are in the process of becoming foster parents. Birth order is important to us, so we are only putting in for a baby less than fifteen months old. We are willing to love babies who wind up back with mom or dad and we are equally open to being a permanent placement for a kiddo who needs a home. We are excited!

You know everything else I've been up to from the blog.

Talk soon!

Lori said...

Yes, I know how you feel, being a parent from a different culture. I have no idea how practical this is, but maybe, if you feel you are striking up a contact with another, or other mommies (smiles, eye contact, etc), just your poquito of Spanish, and their halting English might be a blessing to both. And you can both pick up bits as you go along. Just making an effort is so important in reaching out to other cultures, and smiles go a LONG way!

Tasha said...

You've got me all tangled up with the SoCal location. I live there 6 mos. out of the year. (By the way.. I found your blog via another IA blogroll.)

I'm thinking... Brentwood or Long Beach.

Am I within a 5 mile radius there?