My grandmother spent her earliest years in Mexico: first in the Mormon colonies in the state of Chihuahua, where her parents and grandparents had lived (stories of the ins and outs of the 1910-20 Mexican revolution/civil war are regular features of family storytelling), then in the southern state of Hidalgo, where her father worked. She spoke both Spanish and English and remembers things like playing with monkeys that don't normally happen to children in the United States. She returned to Mexico in her twenties as a missionary, then taught school in Arizona where she could be fired for teaching Spanish but sometimes did anyway, then moved to Utah and lived with other women who'd lived as missionaries in Mexico.
My mother also spoke Spanish, taught Spanish to elementary school students in our house and once a week as a volunteer in our school, and made friends with recent immigrant families and helped them interface more effectively with the U.S. educational system. I never paid enough attention to learn much Spanish from her, but in my childhood was often surrounded by it. In my Utah elementary school, there were always a few kids with strong anti-immigrant sentiment from their parents, and I'm not sure I or they realized I wasn't somehow Mexican.
My wife also speaks Spanish, as do all her siblings, and now I am beginning to pay more attention to the language and think about the ways the cultures in the more northern and southern parts of the continent have been affecting each other for centuries.
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