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Hispanic Heritage Month: Sabrina, Dominican University

October 4, 2018

Canal Alliance is proud to be a part of a diverse community of clients, volunteers, staff and partners. This Hispanic Heritage Month, we are celebrating just a few of their stories that demonstrate the strength, energy and pride in our Hispanic and Latino Heritage.

What is your name?

My name is Sabrina Campos.

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Mérida, Yucatán, México in 1997. I’ve lived there ever since, only moving once to Sacramento for an exchange year during my junior year of high school and now to San Rafael to attend Dominican University.

What do you do for a living now?

I don’t currently have a job, though I used to work as a reporter for a soccer team back home. I am currently a sports media student at the Dominican University of California, living abroad for a year and hopefully more.

How has your family and cultural heritage shaped your perspective on life and influenced what you do now?

I think my family and my cultural heritage have shaped my perspective in many ways. For starters I think manners were really important when I was growing up and the idea of respecting your elders is also really big in Mexican culture, or at least around my family; to this day, I find it really hard to call someone much older than me by their name. But in contrast, the familiarity in which you talk to people who you don’t know. Being always very warm towards other people and just generally nice, I think, is something that is not necessarily taught but you definitely pick it up when growing around it.

What languages do you speak? Do you speak a different language in different settings, such as home, school, or work? Are there any expressions, jokes, stories, celebrations where a certain language is always used? Can you give some examples?

I can only speak English and Spanish, the latter being my first language but I’ve been learning and studying English since I was around 3 because of my mom’s insistence. Being in school here, I speak English during class, clearly and with most of my peers but when it comes to family, even the one I have here, we always speak in Spanish. It’s kind of our little way to hang on to a little piece of our country. I think that even though most of my vocabulary is now 90% in English, I still use a lot of expressions from back home, like “Ay” or “Uay” which is actually Mayan and specific to the region where I’m from. Also, I like to use a lot of phrases and sayings and I sometimes find myself saying them, even when I’m speaking to a non-Spanish speaking person, which results in the funniest reaction.

Can you share any stories about how your family first came to the United States? Where did they first settle? Why? How did they make a living? Did your family stay in one place or move around? How did they come to live in this area?

My family first came to the United States many years ago, 53 years ago to be exact. My grandfather’s cousin had been trying to convince him to come to the States, “I have a job lined up for you” he would say, but my grandfather was serving in the Mexican Army, had just become a sergeant and was still under contract, until one day, he wasn’t anymore and a week later he took a leap of faith and left. He left his family with the promise of returning and went to San Mateo, California. That never happened, so a few months later, my pregnant grandmother, joined him there, flying out with her three other children. She would eventually give birth to my dad and his twin and later on, their youngest daughter.

They stayed in San Mateo while they were here, even though my grandfather worked in a restaurant in San Carlos. Once they were older, the kids would also help. My grandfather says he always planned to go back home, that being here was only for a period of time, “Not a permanent thing”. But they ended up staying in the United States for over a decade, never actually consider leaving until a health scare, a stroke, that made him drop everything and come back home immediately, starting a new, through the reluctance of his children who were thriving academically and in sports and didn’t know anything other than the United States.

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