Tu Edad?

EMBA

Hello there,

TGIF! I know my title looks kinda weird, but trust me, there is a story behind it.

So, you might not know this, but I am currently back in school! Yes, I am getting an executive MBA here at UTSA. As is required by any Masters program, you are frequently placed in teams to work on projects. My most recent project is called “The Paperclip Project” where we try to create value out of little or nothing. Essentially, we were placed in teams of 4s, but my team only consists of 3 of us, “Fernando” “Mariana” and I. Each team was given a paperclip and team members are to trade theirs up until we end up with something valuable, sell it on Ebay by the given deadline, and the proceeds are donated to The Battered Women and Children’s Shelter of San Antonio, TX.

Pprclip 1

Today, as we are studying and prepping for our presentation, Fernando asks me what the significance of 1969 in my email is. I tell him, it’s the year I was born. He is marveled and thoroughly surprised and truly impressed by the way I look etc. I thank him and proudly tell him, “I turn fifty in a little over 8 months”.  A little later on, I hear Mariana ask Fernando his age, and he whispers, “37”. I look up in surprise, and ask “tu edad?” this means “your age?” in Spanish. What happened next was an eye opener.

It turns out neither Mariana, nor Fernando speak, or understand Spanish. This is news to me, because it is a phenomenon that has puzzled me for a while now since moving to San Antonio, TX. I have met tons of people with very traditional Hispanic faces and names, some even with a ? Spanish accent, but “do not” speak or even understand Spanish. So, of course, I bite the bait! I am all over it/them!

Eventually, Mariana sits me down to explain that “Spanish actually is” her first language, and she grew up speaking Spanish in her home, until she got ready to go to elementary school, then her parents pretty much “banned” her from speaking Spanish! They insisted she only speak English in school because “growing up in the San Antonio of her parents’ days, the city was extremely racist, and they were not allowed to speak Spanish in school at that time!” “What?” I retort, “but San Antonio is pretty much North Mexico!” “How was that even allowed?” but she shook her head and proceeded to tell me the story of her aunt who had bought her first home many moons ago, during that era, and on her title deed were inscribed the words “no Blacks or Hispanics allowed”. Needless to say, her aunt has the deed framed and displayed on the walls of the home.

pprclip 3

Why am I telling you this?, well, because, I now understand and appreciate why some of the folks I come across that look as Hispanic as ever, do not speak a word of Spanish. For a polyglot like me (I speak 6 languages) this is saddening, because I LOVE to speak languages and always want to practice. At work, I actually see most, if not all of my Spanish-speaking patients by myself. A feat I am extremely proud of, to the point that my colleague, Dr. M, (who teaches me and corrects my Spanish daily) once asked me what my Spanish name is, because he feels like I should be a “token Mexican”.

Anywho, I have to go now…I am still in class, and we have our Summer end of semester exams this weekend, plus we are learning about Milton Friedman vs Ed Freeman, Stockholder vs Stakeholder theories in Ethics. As for our little paperclip project? well, we made all of $463.00 in total from one single paperclip, and still had a few more items that were not sold by the deadline date. Not too bad for a relatively valueless item to start with.

Okay, I gats to go, al catch ya later!

Peace Still

BB

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart”                                                        -Nelson Mandela

“One language sets you in the corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way”                                                                                                                                      – Frank Smith

PS: My website dedicated to fighting teen depression and teen suicide, teenalive.com is LIVE, click the link to check it out!

 

 

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Published by

wordsbyblackbutterfly

My name is Uchenna Umeh (oochaynnah oomay). I am a pediatrician, a wife, a mom, a disabled veteran, a "doc-preneur" in the making, and an exercise enthusiast!

5 thoughts on “Tu Edad?”

  1. wow! I learnt a lot reading this piece and it made me appreciate my language even more and also my desire to learn a foreign language. thanks dear.

    Like

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