Cuando en puro inglés . . . trago tierra

Poetic from Trenzas ~ Braids 2017

by Jorge D. H. Prosperi (English Version Follows With Overview)

Nos invitaron y aqui estamos
En el templo de enseñanza
¡Qué maravilla!
Nos hablan sin parar

Trago tierra y me ahogo.

Escuchamos temblando
Nos piden que hablemos
La boca sin saliva
La lengua paralizada

Trago tierra y me ahogo.

Uno se siente un miserable
Quisiera desaparecer
Es un temor no saber
Somos como estatuas

Trago tierra y me ahogo.

Y nos piden si hay preguntas
¡Si supieran cuantas tenemos!
Nos hablan sin entender
Una pared de palabras

Trago tierra y me ahogo.

Sin idioma somos invisibles
¿No saben que solo adivinamos?
Como un poste aquí plantado
Cuando en puro inglés

Trago tierra y me ahogo.

When in pure English . . . I swallow dirt

They invited us and here we are
In the temple of learning
What a marvel
They speak at us without pause

I swallow dirt and choke.

We listen trembling
They ask us to speak
The mouth without saliva
The tongue paralyzed

I swallow dirt and choke.

One feels a failure
Wishing to disappear
Not knowing is fear
We are like statues

I swallow dirt and choke.

And they ask if there are questions
If they knew just how many
They speak at us without understanding
A wall of words

I swallow dirt and choke.

Without language we are invisible
Do they know that we only guess?
Like a planted post
When in pure English

I swallow dirt and choke.


Cuando en puro inglés . . . trago tierra
When in pure English . . . I swallow dirt
Poetic from Trenzas ~ Braids 2017
By Jorge D. H. Prosperi 2019

Parental involvement in the schooling of a child can be a challenge for all parents. The situation is exacerbated for Mexican parents who recently immigrated to the U.S. and are not aware of parental involvement from the American Education perspective.

One of the constant anxieties is not knowing how to navigate the English language. Not knowing the language is the first critical reality that each immigrant quickly faces. The frustrations and struggles are highlighted when recent immigrants are invited to schools to learn about the curriculum, their children’s classes, take advantage of the many opportunities regarding clubs, tutorials and how best to help the teachers and administration. In the 21st Century, parents are expected to be adjuncts to the schooling of children.

It is easy to recommend that immigrants learn English in order to support their children. The challenge often has to do with the variables of both parents working, lacking transportation and the fear of attending school functions without ever understanding what is being presented.

Cuando en puro inglés . . . trago tierra is a poetic in the voices of Mexican immigrants who provided a raw account of how they felt upon visiting schools. They enrolled and attended in good faith wanting to be part of the educational process and were treated with indifference feeling not welcomed; that eventually led to avoiding future meetings.

What they were left with was educating the child as they had been educated. The challenge was not to lose the values that had been instilled by ancestors. It was not only about academic content and attendance, but instilling “ganas” (the will) and resiliency that would be required to pursue opportunities – that would eventually result in attendance – a relevant presence in America as future citizens.

When asked what would make a difference for Mexican parents to participate more fully, they recommended interpreters, home visits by bi-lingual teachers, bi-lingual announcements and programs, evening literacy programs at the school that would help with basic language skills, involving Latino/a non-profit organizations to explain American public school process, family  to family connections, information about graduation requirements and college admission. The central dilemma was the insurmountable challenge of dealing with the English language.