When senior Victor Liu moved from his home of 15 years in Mexico, he was unsure what California would have in store for him. Thoughts of starting high school in a new environment intimidated him, but he kept his head held high in anticipation of what was to come.
“I was fully prepared to enter high school in this new environment because being raised in Mexico taught me not to care about what other people think about me,” Liu said. “I have been the center of jokes in my hometown because it is uncommon for an Asian to speak fluent Spanish and live in Mexico, so I don’t really let it get the best of me.”
Although Liu was able to easily integrate himself into the school’s densely populated community, he felt isolated because of the contradiction between his ethnicity and the language he grew up speaking.
“Last year, I was the only Asian in my Spanish Honors 3/4 class, so I felt misplaced because of our cultural differences,” Liu said. “Even though I was able to speak the language fluently, I didn’t feel like I belonged in the class because of my ethnicity.”
Growing up in a Chinese household in Mexico, Liu had to master his native language as well as the regional language. Liu was forced to attend Chinese school for six years by his parents.
“My parents feared that I would not be able to communicate with my relatives in China so they encouraged me to study Chinese and practice my speech at home,” Liu said. “Most of the time, I speak a mix of Spanish and Chinese to my parents and when I forget a word in one language, I say it in the other language.”
However, Liu considers Spanish to be his most fluent language and continues to refine his vernacular in AP Spanish Language and Culture class. While he still faces difficulty in pronunciation, he has gained more knowledge of the Spanish language and has cultivated his understanding of Spanish culture.
“I still keep in contact with some close friends from Mexico, and learning about Spanish culture brings nostalgia of my hometown and makes me feel like I’m connected with my old friends,” Liu said.
Aside from Spanish, Liu has made it a personal goal to improve his speaking in English as he had no prior knowledge of the language before moving to California.
“I feel like I have a lot to learn in these languages, so there’s always room for improvement,” Liu said. “I especially want to work on improving my English because it’s the language that I am less familiar with.”