East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy

Experiencing new cultures

I recently moved to East Los Angeles from Chalatenango, El Salvador. When I first moved to this community, I could not speak English and I was scared that no one would speak my language. Fortunately, East Los Angeles is a community where mostly Hispanic people reside, and that is what I like about it. I feel like I never left mi patria querida (my lovely country) because wherever I go, people speak to me in Spanish. When I go with my mother and sister to the park, to the market, or to a restaurant, people always speak to us in Spanish, and it is something that I love. I feel comfortable and proud of being part of this wonderful community because it reminds me of my blue and white hometown.

Eastside is a diverse community of people who have the opportunity to interact with people from different countries and traditions. My own relevant experience of living in East Los Angeles has been something indescribable because I have had the opportunity to interact with Mexican-American people whose traditions are different than mine. I have learned from them and they from me.

Mexican traditions have events that anyone can join to celebrate. The first time I attended a Mexican event, I was surprised because Mexican traditions are really unique, like El Dia De Los Muertos (Day Of the Dead). I really liked the way they celebrated it because everyone in the event released white balloons, which represented the soul of someone we lost. This meant something to me because I remembered those loved ones who are not with me anymore, only in my heart. It was the first time I did it because in my country we celebrate this day in a different way. Our tradition is to go to the cemetery to clean the mausoleum and place flowers on our loved ones who are resting in peace. I also liked the Mexican tradition of painting their faces. At first, it seemed strange and scary because I had never seen it before, but I liked to share this type of tradition with different people.

Another culture I have learned are American traditions like Independence Day. My first year residing in East Los Angeles, I felt out of place because in my country, El Dia de Independencia is celebrated on September 15th. It was different how American cultures celebrate it. Families go out for a picnic at the park or beach, and there are always fireworks at night. Salvadorans celebrate this day with a parade, where every single school in El Salvador participates.