Community Cultural Wealth Column: La Herida que Va Sanando (the wound that heals)
I wrote this column to share my story through my cultural assets: Aspirational, linguistic, familial, navigational, social, and resistant. I know we all have an open wound in our lives and I want to share mine in order to heal. It is in both of my idiomas (languages) because this is the way I think and how I express myself, sometimes in English sometimes in Spanish but always from the heart.
Maintaining and nurturing aspirations
I aspire to be a maestra bilingüe (bilingual teacher). I don’t want to be another statistic, I want to change what people see me as. I am not just a Mexican American girl from a small town. I want to be the person that I needed when I was in school because I never saw myself or my culture reflected in the school system. I want to be an agent of change and an educator. My motivation is my mother. I want to make her proud. I want all of the sacrifices that she made for me to be shown in what I do. I want to help students through a culturally sustaining education. I think of students who are not given the education they deserve due to the system causing deficit thinking perspectives, like the ones I experienced in school. I want them to know they are assets in the classroom, for example, for equity, inclusion, academics, and socioemotional learning, and they will succeed no matter what.
Using linguistic skills
Mi primer idioma fue el español. Entré a la escuela y no usaba el español en mis estudios. En mi casa hablaba español pero cuando pisaba la escuela todo tenía que ser en inglés. Si usaba español sentía que me juzgaban. Había una pared entre mis idiomas. En la preparatoria, mis amigas y yo hablábamos español entre nosotras mismas y, al hablarlo, expresábamos nuestras verdaderas voces: lo que éramos nosotras y nuestros orígenes. Entré al colegio y vi que mi primer lenguaje no era algo que debía de avergonzarme sino de causarme orgullo. En mis clases del colegio mi idioma no solo me ha apoyado a mí sino a mis compañeras. Hemos creado puentes para que ellas como maestras monolingües vean la importancia y los beneficios de usar más de dos idiomas en la educación de nosotras y de nuestros estudiantes.
My first language was Spanish. I entered school and did not use Spanish in my studies. At home we spoke Spanish but when I went to school everything was in English. If I used Spanish, I felt that I was being judged. There was a wall between my languages. In high school, my friends and I spoke Spanish among ourselves and, by speaking it, we expressed our true voices: who we were and our origins. When I started high school l and saw that my first language was not something that should embarrass me but rather make me proud. In my high school classes my language has not only supported me but also my classmates. We have built bridges for them as monolingual teachers to see the importance and benefits of using more than two languages in the education of ourselves and our students.
Acquiring knowledge and wisdom
My family has made me the person I am today. There were four of us but when I was four years old we became three. Meaning I grew up without a father which may sound like a barrier but for me it isn’t. That is because I was blessed with an amazing mother. She is a mujer (woman) that inspires me everyday. I see her smile and it’s like she never had hardships in her life. She is the strongest person I know. Through her own experiences and wisdom she pushes me and tells me that there is much more to life than what we have experienced. She wants me to do the things that she never had the opportunities to do because she was influenced by the patriarchal system to become only a mother and a wife.
Using my cultural background
I put my assets into service in high school. Being in student council during high school pushed me to run for senior class president. One of my goals was to speak at our graduation ceremony and represent who I was and my community. Taking this step I encountered challenges and self doubt because I was running against the status quo. When challenges emerged, I heard my mother’s wisdom to continue. I used my bilingualism to reach out to a broader student population. I gave my speech and to my amazement I won. I realized that I needed to transcend beyond the people I had grown up with.
Serving my community
I am a first generation student. I struggled applying for colleges and scholarships because I had never seen that. I learned to balance working two jobs, as a part-time paraprofessional and as a manager at McDonald’s, and my full-time student responsibilities. For example, one semester I was taking 19 credits and working six days a week, including 4 a.m. shifts and weekends, and completing all my assignments on top of 80 hours of field experience for my education courses. I haven’t given up because I have the goal of graduating with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a culturally and linguistically diverse endorsement as well as a bilingual education endorsement.
Navigating social institutions
Being a student at CMC has opened many doors for me. I am a junior now and if it weren’t for CMC I don’t think I would have made it this far. My first year in the education program, I got hired at Highland Elementary as an English Language Development paraprofessional. This position opened more opportunities, being able to work with students in the classroom, refine my practices, and implement what I am learning in college. Recently, I had to make a hard decision to leave this position in order to save funds to guarantee myself a stable internship year.
These institutions, family, friends, and support systems, have impacted me. My friends and I share mutual goals and have been together since elementary school. We push each other to succeed and become the people we aspire to be.
Jocelyn Leal Quezada is a third year CMC Teacher Education Program student. She’s lived in the valley for 16 years and wants to keep teaching here when she graduates.
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