Do you speak Spanglish?

Please check out this blog post from the Friendly Spanish Blog.!! This particular post resonates with me deeply because I’ve been doing it for years and I had no idea there was a name for it.!!! It’s called code switching and happens when a bilingual person switches between two languages in the same conversation.! Since Croatian is my first language, I have been doing this for years with other Croatian-Americans switching back and forth between Croatian and English. Sometimes I would switch because I was lazy and didn’t know the word. But oftentimes, I would switch because one language had a word or phrase that better expressed what I was trying to convey.

Strangely enough, I did this in Mexico too.!! Everytime, I learned a new word or phrase in Spanish, I would incorporate it into my daily existence mixed with English. Sometimes, people would make fun of me, but it turns out it’s the best way to learn a language and have it stick.!! While working in Mexico, I met a Mexican girl who spoke English and was dating a Serbian boy so she spoke Serbo-Croatian.!! Talk about code switching in three different languages.!!! I was in heaven 🙂 Enjoy the post.!!

Friendly Spanish Blog

The USA is frequently cited as the world’s great ‘melting pot’, having welcomed an unmatched diversity of immigrant communities over the last few centuries. The contemporary patterns of immigration are thoroughly dominated by the Hispanic or Latino communities, which constitute the fastest growing ethnic group in the states, steadily approaching 20% of the population. These groups are especially concentrated in Southern California, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and major cities all over America. Within this huge community there is a complex range of nationalities, races and cultures. Mexicans make up 34.5 million alone, but Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Salvadorans, Dominicans and Guatemalans all count at least one million. Obviously, the key unifying factor here is the Spanish language, which not only exerts a powerful linguistic presence in its own right, but has also intermingled with English to create a fascinating and dynamic phenomenon: Spanglish.

Spanglish in action Spanglish in action. Source: languagetrainers.co.uk

One characteristic…

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divided loyalties…

courtesy of wallwidehd.com

courtesy of wallwidehd.com

Rose Boras
Facebook post
April 15, 2012

Croatian by design.
U.S. citizen by birth.
Mexican resident by choice.

The bad thing about having surpising loyalties, is that sometimes it can cause divided loyalties. My birthday was on Monday and I had a marvelous time of it. But I have to say the two hours Croatia played Mexico during the World Cup, I bit off my fingernails and fingers.!! Plus everyone kept asking me who I was rooting for because apparently it wasn’t clear to anyone. While, I am Croatian by ethnicity, I have strong ties to Mexico.

Luka Modric and Hector Herrera courtesy of zimbio.com

Luka Modric of Croatia and Hector Herrera of Mexico courtesy of zimbio.com

However, I decided the moment that I heard Croatia was playing Mexico on my birthday, I would root for Croatia.! Even though one of my friends accused me offline of really rooting for Mexico.! jajaja… But in all seriousness, it was a tough game to watch. I love both countries.! Regardless of who won or lost, I would feel elated for one and heartbroken for the other. But such is life right.? Bittersweet at all times. And that’s exactly what happened when Mexico won. I was happy for Mexico and all of my Mexican friends. But truly sad for all my Croatian family and friends. It had been nice to watch Croatia on a world stage albeit for only a short time.!

 Danijel Pranjic of Croatia controls the ball as Paul Aguilar of Mexico gives chase courtes of zimbio.com


Danijel Pranjic of Croatia controls the ball as Paul Aguilar of Mexico gives chase courtes of zimbio.com

I have to admit, I’m not looking forward to the next time my heartstrings are pulled in such a fashion. And that was only a soccer game. I can only imagine the discord in one’s psyche when you have parents from two differing places or people caught up in ethnic strife. I hope the next time my loyalties are tested and divided, it’s because I can’t decide between chocolate and vanilla ice cream.!! No manches.!!

surprising loyalties…

courtesy of societeperrier.com

courtesy of societeperrier.com

I am always surprised when I meet a person who is loyal to another country, team, or ideal than the status quo. For example, in Chicago you would expect to find Chicago Bears fans, Blackhawks fans, and Cubs fans. But when someone is a fan of the Seattle Seahawks or the Cleveland Browns, you might be intrigued, but not surprised. And usually you will discover they have some predilection towards that particular town because they lived there or grew up within its confines.

However, there are some loyalties that do surprise you. That is until you look deeper. For example, I have a former coworker who worships Holland. Upon much questioning, you realize she lived there for several years. Or maybe you know a certain Croatian-American girl with an affinity for Mexico. Upon some research on her blog, you discover she lived in Mexico. But what makes a man from Brazil who has never lived in Croatia, love the Croatian national soccer team. In this case, it’s all about loving the underdog… Watch the video, it’s amazing 🙂

http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/videos/y=2014/m=6/video=the-brazilian-croatia-fan-2384144.html

Goooaaal…..

courtesy of 101greatgoals.com

courtesy of 101greatgoals.com

Croatia is still in the game baby.!! Yay.!! I was so hoping we would not get eliminated playing Cameroon. And we didn’t.! Final goal was 4-0 in Croatia’s favor 🙂

I have to say prior to the game start, I was a little apprehensive for two reasons. Firstly, while Croatia played a solid game against Brazil, bad reffing left much to be desired. I was hoping not to relive those bad calls again. And secondly, Mexico only beat Cameroon by 1-0 during their match. El Tri, as Mexico’s team is known, is ranked number 19 in FIFA standings. Croatia is ranked number 18. So, needless to say, I was concerned about a tight scoring game leaving very little of my fingers left let alone my fingernails.!!

courtesy of jakessteaks.net

courtesy of jakessteaks.net

But I had very little reason to fear. I’m not sure if I should be thankful for the extensive heat in Manaus, Mario Mandzukic’s return, or Alex Song’s eviction from the game, but hallelujah.!! It all worked out in the end. In fact, I felt a little sorry for Cameroon 😦 But I do believe, Croatia needed this win and in a big way. They face Mexico on Monday (my birthday by the way) and the win against Cameroon was essential to get their head back in the game.!

I’ve had several people ask me today, who will I be rooting for during Monday’s game, Mexico vs. Croatia. And I have to admit, I will be slightly torn and maybe even a little guilty not rooting for El Tri. But since I’m Croatian by design and it is my birthday that day too – soy Croata en lunes durante el gran partido.! jajaja…. Unless of course Mexico wins…..jijiji…just kidding 🙂

world cup fever.!!

courtesy of

courtesy of croatiansports.com

Today is the first day of World Cup 2014.!! And I am super excited because Croatia is playing the opening game against Brazil.!! How spectacularly awesome 🙂 And albeit, a little scary too, since Croatia did not even qualify for World Cup 2010. However, in their World Cup debut in 1998, they finished third.!! I’m hoping for a similar end result this time around.

Soccer holds a special place in my heart because as long as I can remember, I’ve been going to soccer (football) matches with my father. But the World Cup has an even greater hold on me because it reminds me of my first year in Mexico. I will tell you all about that trip tomorrow.! Until then, please enjoy this video supporting the Croatian soccer team. And let’s bring it Croatia.!!!

with a rebel yell….

EZLN painted house

EZLN painted house

I am descended from rebels. Historically and genetically. Historically, Croatia has a long history of insurgency. It has resisted the infiltration and occupation of many invaders. The long list includes the Romans, the Venetian Republic, Hungarians, the Austrian Hapsburgs, the Ottoman Turks and the German and Italian armies during WWII. Let us, of course, not forget the communists who held Croatia in a vise-like grip for the latter part of the 20th century.

my father (left) and his friends before leaving for Italy

my father (left) and his friends before leaving for Italy

And this is how I am genetically descended from rebels. My father did not believe in communism. He wanted a free democratic Croatia. And so in 1961, he left his village in Hecergovina in the former Yugoslavia with two friends. They walked for three days straight, stopping only to sleep or to hide from the authorities. Finally, they reached Trieste, Italy where they requested asylum. My father spent a year in a refugee camp in Italy awaiting the U.S. to accept his paperwork. His friends went on to France. Finally, in April 1962, the U.S. government granted my father political refugee status. He was free to come to the United States.

my father (right side) singing with some friends

my father (right side) singing with some friends

That could have been the end of his rebellion. But it wasn’t. My father continued to believe in a free Croatia. He marched in Croatian national pride parades. He invested in the Croatian community by participating in the church, the community and the Croatian school (the one where I missed all those Saturday morning cartoons..!!). But he also invested in the Croatian people. He sent money back home, he pressed the U.S. to stop doing business with Yugoslavia, he passed out leaflets and he helped the diaspora find jobs and homes. Because of this involvement in the community and the stipulation on his asylum to not be involved in overt acts against the U.S. or Yugoslavia, we had many visits from the FBI. Hence, my abilty to spot a FBI agent…

My father (blue grey suit) outside church

My father (blue grey suit) outside church

Throughout my youth, I was inundanted with ideas of resistance, rebellion and freedom from tyranny. And so my fascination with revolutionaries around the world was born, including the U.S.’s from Britain. But also groups as farflung as the Irish revolutionary army (IRA), the Basque nationalist and separatist group ETA, even the Quebec sovereignty movement in Canada peaked my attention.! If it smacked of rebellion and unrest and the formation of a new country – it had my attention. Not that I condoned violence, it was the romantic rhetoric that made me swoon.

My mom, my rebel dad and me

My mom, my rebel dad and me

So in March 2010, when I signed up for my Chiapas study abroad class, I was pleased to discover we would be meeting with the Zapatista revolutionaries in Mexico.! In fact, I was excited.!! However, almost every single other person in my life expressed interest ranging from complete disinterest as in “Who are they?” and “Who cares” to “Omg – you are going to get yourself killed.!” But I was not nervous, I was thrilled to go. Ok maybe I was a little nervous. But I had technically grown up around ‘rebels’ my whole life. So I figured, I would be fine.

EZLN symbol

EZLN symbol

The day finally came to see the Zapatistas. We took our bus to one of their villages in the Chiapas highlands. We arrived at the village fairly early. A letter had been sent ahead of time announcing our visit. However, the Zapatista villages are considered an autonomous region of Mexico; therefore, when we arrived we had to hand over our passports for approval. It was exactly like entering a foreign country. We were allowed to enter the village, but were only escorted to an administration building. Apparently, there was some confusion with our admittance because two students were carrying passports from Colombia and one from the Ukraine. Initially, the Zapatistas seemed confused by this, but we were able to explain the discrepancy to their satisfaction.

comedor pinguino or the penguin diner

comedor pinguino or the penguin diner in the village

On a side note, while we were waiting to be admitted many of us required the use of bathroom facilities. Since we were not allowed to go into the village technically, we were led behind the small la tienda on the roadside. So remember how I waxed profusely about the amazing bathroom at Ocosingo. Yeah, this bathroom was the exact opposite..!! First, we had to walk through a maze of dirt, refuse, discarded metal and chickens..!! Yes, I said chickens..!! Have I mentioned I’m a city girl who is afraid of birds in general. Let alone chickens. Did I mention me and my classmate held hands.! Then of course, the bathroom was an outhouse on stairs..?! With chickens outside clucking.! Oh well…I digress…

zapatista village administration building

zapatista village administration building

Once our visit was approved, our passports were returned to us. We were then taken to a building that appeared to be a schoolhouse or meeting room. Three Zapatista rebels, two men and a woman, sat at the head of the room and told us their story. Basically, the Zapatistas are a revolutionary leftist group located in Chiapas. The group is made up mostly of rural indigenous Maya, though their leader and main spokesperson, Subcomandante Marcos, is not Maya. The Zapatistas take their name from Emiliano Zapata, the agrarian reformer and leading figure of the Mexican Revolution.

painted revolutionaries

painted revolutionaries and a classmate

The Zapatistas have led a war or rebellion against the Mexican state since 1994 when NAFTA was signed. They were concerned that NAFTA would bring about a larger gap between the rich and the poor. However, since their 1994 uprising was squashed by the Mexican army, they have refrained from using weapons. The Zapatistas, or EZLN, now have adopted a different strategy that attempts to gain both Mexican and international support. They have started an internet campaign to explain their intentions and bring about more awareness to their plight. As well as, invite outside groups such as my study abroad class to hear their history and their requests. This change in tactics has garnered greater support from a variety of NGOs and other organizations. It has also created increased attention among the media.

classmates outside a painted building

classmates outside a painted building

Among the Zapatista requests are indigenous control over their resources, especially their land. Since 1994, they have been creating autonomous municipalities in Chiapas. In fact, San Juan Chamula discussed in an earlier post is one of these autonomous municipalities. They have their own police force and the Mexican army is not allowed to enter. Also, on our drive to Agua Azul and Palenque, we had to pay fees to enter to both the Mexican government and the Zapatistas as part of this autonomous agreement. The Zapatistas also believe in a bottom-up approach to politics rather than a top-down. That is why they believe the Mexican government and NAFTA are flawed. Power should come from the people according to EZLN.

my professor outside a painted building

my professor outside a painted building

At the end of their speeches, there was a question and answer session. I even got to ask a question about women’s rights among the Zapatistas.! The Zapatistas actually have a Women’s Revolutionary Law which declares women to be equals among men.! The meeting was definitely a top ten moment in my life. After the Q and A, we were allowed to tour the village and take photos. The buildings were amazing with many painted in bright and colorful hues. There was also a small shop that sold clothes and I picked up a beautiful purple embroidered blouse or huipil.

Me, my professor, our liason and zapatista rebels

our liason, me, my professor and zapatista rebels

Upon leaving, the Zapatistas asked us to tell their story to the outside world. That was their only request of us. That visit was an amazing experience.! One I will not soon forget. The genuine struggle of the people brought to mind many revolutionary stories I have heard throughout my life and my schooling. The basic rights of a people to govern themselves and their land. Is it too much to ask for? Or is it too much not to ask for? Only the heart of a rebel knows the answer for certain. But it appears the Zapatistas and my father came to the same conclusion that it was too much not to ask for their freedom. Only time will tell whether a rebel heart beats within me….