SeriesLIVE

Sarah Hernandez

Immigrant Archive Project
Sarah Hernandez is a 13-year old middle school student who lives in South Florida. Sarah's parents are a mixed race couple. Her father is a Latino immigrant and her mother is Irish-American. Listen as Sarah explains what it's like to grow up with two distinctly different cultures, languages and customs.
Show transcript
00:00
I would like to see more characters like myself on TV.
00:03
So even though she might not be the all American girl, she can
00:07
be Latin.
00:07
It doesn't matter, but the popularity comes from who they
00:12
are and how they act, not the way they look.
00:20
Um I'm Sarah Hernandez.
00:22
I'm 13 years old and I was born in New Jersey, New Jersey.
00:27
Did you grow up in New Jersey?
00:28
Sara?
00:30
Not really.
00:31
Um I was, I was born there and then I grew up in Miami when um my
00:38
parents moved down here when I was six months old.
00:40
You were six months old.
00:41
So all of your memories are really around, around Miami, you
00:45
know.
00:45
Yeah, tell me a little bit about your childhood as you remember
00:48
it.
00:49
Um We lived in the Grand Bay on Cuba.
00:54
That's like the first place I remember living.
00:56
And um I have a sister, Vanda, she's now 16 and we like we went
01:07
to a score on Cuba ST Christopher's of his school days school
01:15
That's where we went.
01:16
And what was life like for you as a little kid on ski.
01:19
Life was pretty cool.
01:21
It was fun.
01:22
Like we had like, a lot of freedom and there was a park and we
01:28
always used to go there and that's pretty much it.
01:37
One of your parents is an immigrant.
01:38
No.
01:39
Yeah.
01:39
My dad, he's an immigrant from Cuba and he moved to the United
01:45
States when he was five years old.
01:49
So, and, and your mom, my mom's from New Jersey.
01:53
She was born and raised there and she moved here with my family
01:57
when we all moved and, and what's your mom's background?
02:01
Her dad's Irish and her mom's half French.
02:05
And um that's basically it.
02:09
So your mom is American?
02:11
Yeah.
02:11
OK.
02:11
So, so what's it like?
02:13
So you have, you have a Cuban father and an American, an American
02:18
mother.
02:19
Uh You have one set of grandparents that are American and one
02:22
set of grandparents that are, that are Cuban?
02:25
What are the differences between, between both you think
02:29
Um between my two like grandparents, I speak Spanish with
02:35
my dad's like parents, which is pretty cool.
02:38
And then with my mom's parents, um we speak English.
02:42
So it's like the best of both worlds with them.
02:44
Um But it's pretty cool, like you get to like learn about the
02:49
Cuban side of them and then like my mom's side is super American
02:54
So it's just like two different things and how are they different
02:57
How are both sides different?
02:58
Describe your, your, your Cuban grandparents or that the
03:01
or the the Cuban side of the family tell me and then describe
03:04
the American side.
03:04
Um the Cuban side we have like the thing that I can describe
03:09
best is Christmas.
03:10
We have the and you have the rice and beans and you have like
03:15
the and everything and it's all there and we all speak Spanish
03:18
and it's like super different from um from my mom's side where
03:23
it's all English on Christmas and we all go to church and we
03:27
have a Christmas day dinner usually at an Italian place because
03:31
it's in New Jersey.
03:32
So it's like two different things.
03:36
Cubans celebrate Christmas the night before and Americans
03:40
on the day of No.
03:42
Yeah.
03:42
Talk to me a little bit about that and, and you can phrase it
03:45
in your own words, but how you would celebrate Christmas with
03:48
your Cuban side of the family on the 24th and then the American
03:51
side.
03:52
So you really got two Christmases?
03:53
No.
03:54
So Chris, I had like two Christmases growing up um with my Cuban
03:59
side of my family, my dad's side.
04:01
Um there's like you celebrate Christmas the night before
04:05
and um we have like all like the food and then you have the like
04:10
12 grapes before the clock turns 12.
04:13
Um like, like they're all like wishes and stuff on, on New Year's
04:18
So it's like, like that's their Christmas to have it the night
04:22
before and then Christmas with my mom's side is the day of Christmas
04:28
You open your presents and then you go to church and then like
04:31
you have a dinner but it's like, usually earlier.
04:34
So you spend them, like the time with your family.
04:37
So you don't really have Christmas.
04:40
Christmas.
04:41
You have like two different ones.
04:43
So it's pretty cool.
04:44
And how do you hope to celebrate Christmas with your family
04:47
when you grow up?
04:50
I don't know.
04:51
It depends when I grow up.
04:54
I wanna have the same thing.
04:56
I think it's pretty cool like that.
04:58
I got to experience it and I want them to have the same, the same
05:03
experience.
05:04
Like if they have, it depends who I marry, but if they have um
05:11
a Cuban background, it'd be cool to have the night before and
05:14
then the like day of Christmas.
05:17
And what if you marry someone that doesn't have a Cuban background
05:19
Would you like them to celebrate that with you as well?
05:22
Yeah.
05:23
If I don't marry someone with a Cuban background, um I want
05:27
them to experience what I had and kind of like, see it through
05:31
my eyes where you celebrated the night before.
05:34
And it's all about like coming together and like have family
05:38
and the food and all of that.
05:42
You mentioned that you speak Spanish.
05:45
Has this talk to me a little bit about whether or not it's important
05:50
for your father, for you to speak Spanish.
05:53
Um Speaking Spanish at my house is super important because
05:58
my dad, he speaks Spanish and he wants us to be influenced by
06:02
that.
06:03
So we have, um, like a tutor come and she tutors us in Spanish
06:08
And we take, we're, we're like, expected to take it at school
06:12
And so all three, like all of us, my sisters and, um, my mom,
06:19
we all like, try to speak Spanish even though my mom really
06:22
can't.
06:23
But, um, and then we have, uh, our housekeeper, Miriam, who
06:27
she speaks Spanish and we can only really speak Spanish to
06:30
her.
06:31
But she tries, but it's better to speak Spanish with her.
06:34
So it's super important to speak Spanish at my house.
06:37
Do you get to practice it with your grandparents?
06:39
I get to practice Spanish.
06:41
A lot of my grand parents.
06:42
Is it important to speak to them in Spanish?
06:45
Yeah.
06:45
It's really important to speak to them in Spanish because
06:49
it's what they're used to.
06:51
And it's like, even though they speak English, it's still
06:54
hard for them to kind of understand sometimes to, like, if
06:58
you're talking to them, sometimes we speak like broken English
07:02
where you speak in Spanish and in English because sometimes
07:04
there's that like thing where I don't know how to say something
07:07
in Spanish and they don't know how to say it in English.
07:10
So it's like back and forth, but we mostly speak Spanish to
07:14
them and it's important for them.
07:17
It's just, it's a sense of pride for them that you speak Spanish
07:21
isn't it?
07:22
Oh, they're super proud that we all speak Spanish.
07:25
Like my grandma, she knows how to work a computer and she is
07:28
gmail and we like chat over it like, like instant messaging
07:33
and we speak in Spanish the entire time and she'll correct
07:36
me sometimes if I type it wrong.
07:39
But she's, she always tells me how proud of us she is.
07:42
And my grandpa too, he always talks about it.
07:45
Are, are, are they important to you?
07:47
You got you Cuban grandparents?
07:50
They are very important to me.
07:52
How so um like it's ok, it's ok.
08:07
They um the only set of grandparents that they have still.
08:15
So I um I try to spend the most time that I can with them because
08:26
they're not always gonna be here.
08:28
So it's super important that I do what I can right now so that
08:34
I'll remember everything that I did with them later on.
08:42
What have you learned from them?
08:46
I learned mostly what I learned from them is to always be proud
08:50
of yourself and to never regret anything that you've done
08:53
because it's gotten you here.
08:56
Like my grandpa always tells me how proud of me he is.
09:00
And that's what I try to do.
09:02
I try to make him proud.
09:04
So he taught me to be like a better person and to always try your
09:09
hardest, like how he tried his hardest and he got here.
09:13
So that's what I try to do.
09:15
I always try to make him proud and try my hardest.
09:18
Does he share some of his immigrant stories with you?
09:21
On his coming to the US?
09:23
He tells us his stories all the time about how he got here and
09:28
all the like obstacles that he had to overcome to get here.
09:33
So he um he always, whenever we usually sit outside with the
09:38
whole family, he always tells them in Spanish and in English
09:42
because my mom's there.
09:43
So, um, he shares all of them with us and they're pretty cool
09:47
to hear why, why are they?
09:49
Cool because it's like, it's a, it's a story.
09:54
It's almost like a book but he hasn't written it.
09:57
He actually experienced it.
10:00
So it's cool to hear it because it's, you know, it's true.
10:05
You know, it's not fake.
10:07
So it's just awesome.
10:10
And what did they taught you about life?
10:13
Anything?
10:14
It's taught me to, like, be strong that you can't give up because
10:18
if you give up you won't make it.
10:20
And, um, like, you have to live life to the fullest because
10:28
I'm so grateful for what I have.
10:31
I can't, I can't ever be like, I can't ever complain because
10:36
I have everything and you understand how hard they had to work
10:41
for you to, to have everything.
10:42
Know.
10:43
Yes, they worked so hard to raise my dad and then I see my dad
10:49
working so hard all the time.
10:51
So I know that, like, everything that he's ever given to me
10:55
is super important and I'm so grateful for everything that
10:59
I have because I know that I'll have to live up to those expectations
11:05
and have to be the same for my kids.
11:07
So it's like all a learning process.
11:11
Is it tough to deal with that kind of pressure?
11:15
Not really, it's not that hard to deal with that pressure because
11:19
I know that he's brought us up.
11:21
Well, so it's not difficult because like everything that
11:26
he's taught me, I know.
11:28
So I have to like figure it out later on.
11:33
I already know it now.
11:34
So it's so much easier.
11:36
So he kind of like takes the pressure off of us really.
11:39
And what would he like for you?
11:41
You think all my dad wants for us is the best?
11:45
Like he always tells us about how we always have to, we have
11:49
to grow up, right?
11:50
And we always have to do the best that we can and you always have
11:53
to succeed because you can't like let anything go.
11:58
So it's super, it's super important.
12:00
Everything that he's taught us.
12:03
You like Latin music?
12:06
Yeah, I like Latin music, certain songs, not all.
12:10
What do you like?
12:11
What kind of Latin music?
12:11
What, what Latin artists do you like?
12:13
I like Shakira.
12:15
I think she's super cool.
12:18
Who else?
12:19
Um Not sure really like I like certain songs but I never really
12:25
know the artist because my sister shows them to me and then
12:28
I just find them pretty cool.
12:30
So I listen to them on your ipod.
12:32
Would I find Latin music?
12:35
No, no, I don't think that when you, when you hang out with your
12:42
friends, do you guys mainly speak in English and Spanish with
12:45
my friends?
12:46
We speak English, but my friend, she speaks Spanish too.
12:51
So we'll say like phrases in Spanish, but we won't ever like
12:55
speak like a full conversation.
12:58
But um like we sometimes will like, say something in Spanish
13:02
because we don't know how to say it in English.
13:03
It's like a thing that we know, but we mainly speak English
13:09
Your, your circle of friends.
13:11
Are they mainly American Latin?
13:13
What are they?
13:14
Um Most of actually all of my friends, they have either one
13:19
American parent or, and one Latin parent or just all the way
13:23
Latin.
13:24
Like they, I don't have a complete American friend because
13:28
living in Miami, I guess that's just like how, how, how it is
13:33
You have the American mom and the American dad, like the American
13:38
dad, the Cuban mom or Spanish mom.
13:41
You never have like just like all the way in your school.
13:46
Is it cool to be a Latin kid or is it looked down upon?
13:49
Oh, no, my school, it's pretty cool to be a Latin kid because
13:55
in my school we sometimes have foreign people come and they
14:00
don't speak proper English.
14:04
So sometimes the teacher will like assign you to talk to them
14:08
and try to figure out what they're saying and help them along
14:10
the way.
14:11
Um Last year I had a friend Carlota who came in and she came from
14:17
Spain and she barely could speak English and I had three classes
14:22
with her and in all those three classes, my teacher had asked
14:24
me to speak to her in Spanish and then to translate it in English
14:28
so that she could get out what she was saying.
14:30
So it was pretty cool to be like Latin in my school.
14:34
Very cool.
14:35
Do you find kids picking on the foreign kids or Latin kids who
14:39
don't speak English or is that not a problem?
14:42
Um In my school they like kind of make jokes about them but not
14:49
like to like make not to hurt them but that like the kids know
14:53
like they're not making fun of them or anything but like, there's
14:55
never like anything to the extreme in my school about Latin
15:00
kids.
15:01
They're never, they're never made fun of bad.
15:03
Like really badly.
15:05
What shows do you watch on TV?
15:06
Sir?
15:08
I watch the cooking channel a lot actually.
15:12
Um And then I watch Disney Channel.
15:15
I watch Wizard of really place a lot with it when you watch V
15:20
do you, do you often find characters on TV that reflect who
15:26
you are?
15:28
Yeah, actually um on Disney Channel it was delivery place
15:34
The um the actress Lena Gomez is Latin and in the show.
15:40
She has an American dad and a Mexican mom, which is, like, revered
15:44
for me because I have a cut.
15:45
I have a dad and an American mom and sometimes like, what she
15:49
goes through which is the Spanish, like the Spanish, um, holidays
15:53
and the American holidays, they both celebrate them and I
15:55
like, realize that that's the same thing that we do in my house
15:59
So that's pretty cool.
16:01
Is it refreshing to see a character that sort of reflects your
16:05
own reality on TV?
16:06
Oh, it's so cool to see a character on TV.
16:10
That is kind of me but not really.
16:13
But, um, it shows how, like, it's, everything is just changing
16:18
how it's not just the one character where she's the all American
16:22
girl and like, the popular girls pick on her.
16:24
Like, it's not like that anymore on TV.
16:26
It's completely different.
16:28
It's all about family and celebrating things.
16:30
Now, would you like to see more characters like yourself on
16:34
TV?
16:36
I would like to see more characters like myself on TV.
16:39
I think that it would show not so much of like the popularity
16:46
how it is and how, because now people are picking up on that
16:49
and it's not that it's not great but like on, on TV, I think it'd
16:53
be cool to have people that focus on other things.
16:57
Not so much on being the perfect, the cool girl with blonde
17:01
hair and blue eyes.
17:02
Like you don't need that like that's not important.
17:05
So I don't think they should be showing that be better.
17:08
Cool girl.
17:09
No longer.
17:09
It's exclusive to blonde hair and blue eyes.
17:11
Is it?
17:11
No, the cool girl now is any like she can have black hair and
17:16
brown eyes, but it's actually like who she is rather than like
17:21
the way she looks now.
17:23
So even though she might not be the all American girl, she can
17:26
be Latin.
17:27
It doesn't matter, but the popularity comes from who they
17:31
are and how they act, not the way they look.
17:35
How do you view yourself when you identify yourself, your
17:38
your self identity, what are you?
17:42
I'm not half Cuban and half American.
17:46
When I look at myself, I'm full American and full Cuban.
17:51
I don't think there's such thing as half and half like that
17:53
doesn't exist.
17:55
You can't, you're like, if you have a full Cuban dad and a full
17:59
uh a full American mom, you're both of them.
18:02
You're never half and half.
18:04
What does that mean?
18:05
Exactly?
18:07
I am 100% American and 100% Cuban.
18:11
Um I never look at myself as anything less than that.
18:17
It's always that I can be 100% Cuban like at times and 100% American
18:26
But there's always still those influences all like all the
18:30
time.
18:31
Give me an instance when, when you're 100% Latin at my grandparent's
18:35
house, not 100% Latin because I guess, speaking to them in
18:41
Spanish and having that Spanish influence there, that's
18:44
just like it comes out, I guess.
18:47
And where are you?
18:48
100% American?
18:51
Um, with my mom's parents then I'm never 100% anything in my
18:57
house.
18:58
But at my, with my mom's parents, I'm 100% American because
19:02
they don't speak Spanish and there's never that, like, Latin
19:06
like, influence there.
19:08
They don't, they don't have it.
19:10
So I can't be 100% Latin there.
19:13
But, and so, so that was interesting.
19:16
You say you're not 100% anything at your house.
19:18
What are you at your house?
19:20
I'm 200% American and Cuban.
19:23
They can't like, you can't be half and half because my dad's
19:27
Cuban or mom's American and there's no such thing as half and
19:31
half.
19:32
So 200% one of the, one of the, the advantages of out of many
19:40
of being bicultural is that you can pick and choose the best
19:45
out of the American culture and the best out of your Latin culture
19:49
and kind of combine both.
19:51
No.
19:52
So what, what have you taken from your Latin culture?
19:56
What have you embraced from your Latin culture?
19:59
Um From my Latin culture.
20:01
I've embraced the like, I guess like the language I've taken
20:06
in and the holidays a lot.
20:09
Um all the time, like whenever we're in New Jersey, we stay
20:12
at my grandparent's house and we speak in Spanish, we have
20:17
Spanish food the entire time we're there.
20:20
But um and then like, I guess the way they are, I've embraced
20:26
too.
20:27
I feel like Latin people are really strong, especially my
20:32
family.
20:33
Like they've tried, they like, were so strong to be here and
20:37
they made it here and that makes them so strong.
20:41
So that makes, I guess I've embraced the way they are, like
20:45
who they are and then like the language and the food.
20:49
So give me an example of the food because you mentioned you
20:52
like the Food Network.
20:53
So what about the Latin food?
20:55
Is it that you like?
20:56
Would you have any favorite dishes?
20:57
Um, from the Latin food?
21:00
I like rice and beans.
21:03
Well, not so much rice but I like the beans a lot.
21:06
Um They're really like, makes them, they're super good.
21:10
They're just like black beans.
21:12
But I don't know, there's something special about hers.
21:15
But um on the food channel they have this one Spanish food that
21:19
they always make.
21:20
I forgot what the name of the show was.
21:22
But I like her food, like her cooking.
21:24
They're really good.
21:26
And what do you take from the American side?
21:29
Um the language and then the clothing is completely different
21:35
too.
21:36
Um But also the way they are because I guess like, I'm not like
21:46
I don't know how to say it.
21:50
It's like the, the way my mom is reflects a lot on me.
21:55
She's like, oh, it's super caring and super nice and just the
21:59
way she does things and the way my dad does things are two different
22:03
things.
22:03
Like they're, they're two completely different things.
22:06
My dad's always joking and my mom's always just like, super
22:09
like sweet and there and like straightforward.
22:13
So the way they are too, what would you say?
22:17
You're, you're the proudest of um I'm proudest of my family
22:24
Um Like, they're always there for me and I'm always there for
22:31
them and I guess like, what we've all accomplished together
22:39
is something like, great and beautiful.
22:43
And um I'm really proud of my dad and everything that he's done
22:51
and it'll be like hard to live up to those expectations.
22:56
But um but like, I'm super proud of everything that my family
23:00
has ever done.