Hi, I’m Lynn Boitano in Garden City Kansas for the HPPR Readers Reader’s Book Club exploring the theme: Stories, Borders and Becoming. Reading our recent book Enrique’s Journey I’m reminded of the indelible impressions that our families make on us through the daily routines, traditions, sacrifices and time spent together.
All of these interactions accumulate to create our family story. As a 6th grade reading teacher in district that’s rich in cultural diversity I’ve had the opportunity to get a glimpse into my students’ family stories and witness the strong bonds that bind families together across many cultures.
Every year I have my students write a poem called “Where I’m From” and I’d like to share a few of their poems with you.
Where I’m From by Daniel Chacon
I am from soccer to tickling wars with mom and dad
From laughter at the dinner table talking about our daytime stories and falling off our bed when we wrestle together and from my father saying “El que quiera un azul celeste que le queste…if you want a blue sky, you have to work to get it, when he’s giving us a lesson.
I am from street soccer with Luis and my brother David. From homemade empanadas from abuelita and taking our dog Mona for her daily walk in the afternoons. I am from my grandpa’s tita and tito, from pupusas and tamales and Lions park and playing soccer till we can’t see.
I am from going on big trips with family. From eating good fish while we watch people dance around you, waves big enough to knock you down in Florida and Puerto Vallarta.
And this from a kind, good-natured student: I am from Irma and Adalberto and bunuelos and tamales on Christmas. I am from a loud neighborhood where kids play in the streets. And from barbeques that my brother calls barbcutes. I am from a family that cares about each other.
A bright, curious student Madison Maxfield writes: I am from many cultures—Native American Potawatomi, Cherokee and Swedish, French, Italian, Irish and German. I am from the foods of many and from the plains and nature. I am from reading in a quiet corner or outside with my dog sleeping beneath the trees and getting excited to run and play, and my dad saying “What are you, some kind of homogeneous bipedal hominid?” I am from food fights on summer mornings, from laughter and ambushing the adults with water balloons and from my parents saying “ The faster you get it done, the faster you get to do what you want”.
And finally, two excerpts from students who graduated from high school this year: I am from Alicia and Lidio and punch to drink with michotes, from the big city with busy streets where we cruise the El Centro and Mercado in Mexico City. It takes us many days to drive to the center of Mexico. I am from a family that spends time together.
I am from a beautiful family living in a strong, reddish, brick home where my parents help me and my sisters with homework and they push us to be better students and sports players. I am from a place where my parents want the best for their kids…that’s where I’m from.
Through the years, I’ve learned that my students are from families that love and support them and instill the importance of respect, hard work and integrity. Those values are universal and make up our family stories across borders and culture.