Journal 7: Mini Ethnography Project

Before reading the research paper to my aunt she told me was was happy and I asked her to be a part of this project because no-one else had asked for her to share her story, or seemed interested. She hadn’t dedicated time to think back and appreciate her efforts and this interview brought back memories that were bittersweet. After reading the paper, she felt proud to hear me express myself in a positive light about her and that her experience served as an important focus point. She never thought much of what she achieved and how, she just kept moving forward, but hearing this after her retirement she felt accomplishment and a relief that she really achieved what she desired.

This project helped me learn more about my aunt’s immigration story, obstacles, and achievements. I had briefly heard about her journey, but never a first hand account. I’m happy this interview moment brought us very close for a moment and helped me see her as more than just my aunt, but as a dedicated, perseverant, humble woman. This project was quite difficult for me because I couldn’t find a way to better flow my paper. I’m glad I got through some obstacles and handed in a paper I thought best reflected my ability and thoughts. Overall, this project helped me enlighten the fact that being bilingual is a magnificent attribute to have. I never actually focused on what it means to be bilingual and what/who determines who is bilingual and listening to my aunt helped me see that no matter how “perfect” our acquired language is we are deserving of our bilingual title. My aunt felt underserving of calling herself bilingual because society often deemed her accented English not standard/worthy, but I’m super proud she was able to realize her potential, as should anyone that has felt the same way.

Journal 6: Literacy Narrative Experience

My experience with writing my literacy narrative has been very rewarding. It made me think of relationships with language, education, and culture which I haven’t realized before. It reminded me of precious moments in my younger life that I hadn’t paid mind to. In this journey, I learned that I can be more expressive in my writing which attracts readers and helps my piece be understood logistically and emotionally. The most difficult step for me was brainstorming because I tend to overthink a lot, and coming up with a solid topic was tough. Also, the rough draft took a lot too, I was very broad and vague with my experiences and lacked motivation to see working. I’m glad this project was split into steps because it held me accountable to continuously work on my piece. Also, I enjoyed peer editing because others can bring in new ideas to help the flow and comprehension. Surprisingly, I had the toughest time with the title because I didn’t know how to concisely introduce my piece. 

Through this assignment, I learned that I can vary in writing styles. I’ve been used to writing scientific pieces, which follow a different structure and involve more outside research than personal additions. I also learned it’s important to have rough drafts because there’s always room for improvement. Every part of a written piece is important, from the title to the conclusion. Each section has to correlate and flow together, reading the examples in class helped me see this point better. I hope my final portrays the amount of work and dedication I invested and can be enjoyed by everyone, whether or not we’ve encountered similar experiences. 

Journal 5: “Is ‘Talking White’ Actually a Thing?”

I have always heard the phrase “talking white” specially when getting prepared for any interview; school or work. This is a stereotype I, along with many of my cultural/socioeconomic background have been made to follow because its been shown to help us. Unfortunately, any English other than the standard holds a social stigma of being uneducated, weak, and “ghetto.” As this stereotype is maintained, many of us are pre-judged even through the phone. “I have to use my white voice on the phone,” to get the chance for an in-person interview. Usually, my name gives away my race/ethnicity , but if I can get over that the “white voice” comes in handy because it’s associated with intelligence, priority, wealth, and sophistication. For example, if I go into an interview I need to make sure I refrain from using my idiolect which is composed of African-American English (AAE) and spanglish. Once I use my idiolect, all my qualifications will go out the window. This is a true disadvantage for minorities and a misfortunate stereotype maintained alive. Speaking white is associated with greater vocabulary and articulation, which seems to be what others are lacking according to society. Just because I cut off some words or use slang doesn’t make me any less educated, than a Josh or a Hannah that use “been” instead of “bin,” double negatives, etc. 

There are obvious vocal differences between both parties which is the beauty of the English language. Our speech is highly influenced by our surroundings and when someone uses AAE or any other English variation, people quickly make assumptions of the speaker’s location which then turns to assumptions of economic status and race/ethnicity. Hopefully, this stereotype against English variations is put to rest because it’s disheartening to have to put up a facade for something you deserve. The way I speak doesn’t outweigh my educational achievements and great qualifications, so why am I being held to this standard? Why can’t my English hold the same value standard English does? 

Journal Entry 4: “What makes a good story?”

I believe a good story is composed of persona, style, and overall truth. Each writer has their own voice and it’s important for me to hear it through their work. It can be boring and monotone when reading/writing a narrative that has no persona. Being able to express your voice in writing is difficult, but when done right it can effectively draw in the audience and enlighten pathos. This can be done by adding personal connotations like Martinez did, “mija dame a huevo from the fridge.” This quote welcomed me to her family, using her mother’s literal words instead of writing my mother uses spanglish. Also, style can boost a narrative making it more interesting and memorable. When trying to write a narrative, we can mistakenly reiterate an idea to make up for lost words, I think it’s more efficient to change up the writing styles in these instances to keep the audience engaged. We can use literary devices like metaphors and similes or quotes from a relevant author to enliven the story. Truth makes a good story because you’re writing from the heart which can be transmitted to the reader. In the exchange from writer to reader, truth can be the tie that connects both parties. 

Aja Martinez’s story was straightforward, personal, and relatable. I really enjoyed her narrative as she portrayed her struggle in identifying with various cultures and languages. She used quotes from her her family to give the audience a glimpse of her life. Martinez also presented her personal experiences through academic settings and personal settings like her struggle to communicate to her monolingual grandparent, or even the instance she had with a monolingual Spanish speaking lady on the bus. In addition, I think that whether or not you’ve been through a situation like Martinez’s, her writing allows you to empathize and learn which makes it a good story. 

Journal Entry 3: “Good English”

As a student, I’ve been led to believe that standard English is the only correct way to speak and write. It’s important to be concise and “proper” in order for your work to be valid and your audience to understand. Because of this old way of thinking, many have belittled English dialects like African American English (AAE). As stated by McCulloch, “we know that where and how you grow up influences your idiolect, so why is it acceptable to penalize people for something no one has any control over?” There are not two people who speak the same, everyone has different styles, tones, and diction. For example, celebrity Cardi B is often ridiculed because of her speech pattern, which is viewed as “ghetto” and unintelligent. Her most recent instagram video regarding the government shutdown received a lot of backlash because many believe her way of speaking disqualifies her from speaking about important issues. 

After reading McCulloch’s article I greater believe that there isn’t one correct English. In the United States alone there are numerous English variations which is fascinating to see. I understand the concept of using one form of English for a universal connection, it’s not an invalid point. It’s unfortunate that we’re being unjustly judged for something so opinion-based; ultimately the title “good English” is just an opinion, so why are people still being stigmatized by non-factual thoughts?

Journal Entry 2

Martinez’s purpose was to wholeheartedly depict the devastation she felt when her academic skills were criticized unjustly. She wanted her audience to understand the hardships and self-doubt she had internalized that were  suddenly put on display for her peers to witness and judge. Martinez wants to let everyone that looks like her know to keep pushing because the fight is precious. It takes discipline and strength to succeed when society has put all the odds against you. The professor let his/her ignorance intervene in Martinez’s academic  growth, which happens to many minority students in predominantly white institutions. Through her emotional appeal Martinez is calling out for change in academia. Like the note her professor left on her paper “needs work,” the stigma suffocating minority students in academic spaces needs work. It’s critical to make minority students feel safe in spaces where they are breaking down barriers. Growing up within a mainly latino and African-American student body I never felt like I didn’t belong until I went to a predominantly white university for my first semester. It’s always heard and seen on the news that we’re the minority, but you never truly see nor feel it until you’ve left your comfort zone. I can relate to Martinez’s fight to make spaces safe for minority students because it’s tough having to constantly prove your worth to yourself, family, peers, and professors. 

Both reading assignments emphasized the necessity for pathos as it invites the reader on a relatable and personal level. Martinez uses her personal experiences to draw in readers that perhaps have been through a similar situation. After her audience is emotionally connected, she invokes the change that is needed in academia for minority students. In Arguments Based on Emotion: Pathos, the author shows how companies like the FDA use warning labels to portray a message to consumers. Warning labels can provoke an array of feelings depending on the audience. All writing should use pathos to a certain extent because a piece solely based on facts can be dull. 

Journal Entry 1: “Mother Tongue”

“Mother Tongue” is about Amy Tan’s struggle to relate and empathize with her mother’s “broken” English. Since a young girl, the author had been exposed to the poor treatment her mother received for her English speaking skills like not being heard nor understood. This experience had negatively affected Tan into thinking that her mother was less than because of her “low” English level. As a result Tan says that her mother’s capabilities stunted her personal growth in the English language leading to low IQ and SAT scores because “a person’s developing language skills are more influenced by peers.” As Tan grew into a strong writer she came to understand that her mother isn’t less than because her English doesn’t suit societal norms. 

      I can strongly relate to Amy Tan because I too had these feelings with my mother. My mother would try to speak English, but always encountered someone who just couldn’t get passed her Spanish accent, so she’d call on me to translate her concerns; at parent teacher conferences, doctor’s appointments, etc. As I got older I realized my mother had been properly addressing herself, but the confused stares from others stunted her confidence and only kept her further away from the language. Through my personal experiences with opposing cultural prospectives when it comes to the English language I’ve learned to appreciate everyone’s varying English stages. The differences signify strength and courage because It’s difficult to assimilate to a country where your mother tongue is seen as less than. Despite the varying accents and sentence structures, being able to communicate in a new language needs to be applauded not dismissed. 

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