The Charleston Bilingual Academy Story (1 of 3)

“Hey, let’s go create an inner city private school named Charleston Bilingual Academy. Then we will strategically target all ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses.  Oh, and let’s do it in the heart of the South.”  Hmmmm, I have definitely met with some business savvy people who have looked me in the eye and wondered if I am crazy. Am I?

This journey started 15 years ago, when I was a junior in college. I was conducting research on Hispanic immigration for one of my history courses at Furman.  When I decided on the topic, my professor was quick to warn me that there was no literature in the field, and that I would have to conduct my own qualitative research.  And so I did. I interviewed every Hispanic I came in contact with, asking personal questions and meriting more than once getting kicked out of an establishment.  Quickly I saw a metanarrative; men risking their lives to cross the border, in search of a job where they could support their families, providing food and sending their children to better schools.  Over and over I met with men who lived in the US for over a decade before they were able to bring their family here and be reunited. I met men and women alike, old and young, with tired brows and firm handshakes, who worked two to three jobs, lived with various families under one roof, and sent money back home to take care of relatives.

After a few months, as I commuted in my car and watched Hispanics walk the streets between their jobs and homes, I started subconsciously reacting.  I realized I had never seen them before.  It was as though they quietly pursued invisibility, yet they lived loud lives of sacrifice, courage, and family. Drawn to such nobility, I began studying more Spanish, wanting to conocer not just saber (to know personally not just factually) who are Latins. After teaching for a year at my alma mater, Dorman High School, I moved to Caracas, Venezuela to teach in an international school, learn the Spanish language, and develop relationships with Caraqueños.  In my first year there, I learned the beauty of large families, loud parties, big hugs, and yes, besitos…

 continue the story…

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