Reyna Grande — novelist, writer, educator, immigrant
The way Reyna’s story was told came to reinforce the idea of valuing and acknowledging the background that students bring to classroom, so they can have their voice and express their stories if they urge to do so.
The topic of discrimination and racial issues are strongly focused in the bilingual education, to the point that it could bring mixed feelings to students and teachers. Mixed feeling between the glory of being able to live the “American dream” and the sadness of being away from home, with all its consequences, which in my opinion has shown more impact than the happy american dream life-style in many stories.
Dr Sommer in her book Bilingual Aesthetic — A New Sentimental Education (2004), says “living in two or more competing languages troubles the expectation that communication should be easy, and it upsets the desired coherence of romantic nationalists and ethnic essentialism.” (p.19)
Considering language policy according to Lambert & Shohamy in Language Policy and Pedagocy “Sociolinguistics and language planners count two main kinds of language policy and planning: the one concerned with the structure of the language itself (corpus planning) and the other concerned with decisions on language use and choice (status, acquisition and diffusion planning).” (p.7)
These policies are both connected to what Dr Sommer refers to communicating in two languages as a not easy task. Dr Reyna made me think about that, and the struggles present in the immigrants’ lives, who take risks to move to the first world country. I say risks because once they move, language is just one of the barriers they have to break. Living in between two languages and two cultures can cause identity crisis and in the daily life, immigrants might feel a lack of “belonging”.
I also heard the word success quite often. The word “success” is very relative. I am connecting success lately with being close to the loved ones, to be healthy, to have a sense of belonging, to be who we are and express ourselves freely in a context where people understand your language and ways of being.
To which extent immigrants are more successful living in USA, far from home?
I have been reflecting on ways to take experts in education to third world countries and educate the population there. It is as important to see children in a economically delicate situation in Mexico, Brazil , south and central america, Africa, India, learning English in schools and getting to understand the global connections of nowadays.
Immigrants teachers who themselves went through serious devotion to their professional and personal growth in order to be in this position of Bilingual Teachers or Leaders are needed in poor countries. I have been thinking on how to invest in the same professional development programs or bilingual schools in the third world countries with jobs in the educational field, instead of only bringing the professionals with so much passion and professionalism to develop their skills in US.
Lambert, R. & Shohamy, A (2000). Language policy and pedagogy: essays in honor of A.Ronald Walton. Philadelfia, Amsterdã: John Benajmin Publishing Company.
Sommer, D. (2004). Bilingual aesthetics: new sentimental education. Durham, NC :Duke University Press