As a child, I struggled with a name that felt foreign and distinct in a sea of Ashleys and Sarahs. I longed for the simplicity of a "normal" name, one that wouldn't raise eyebrows or require an intricate explanation. Each school year, the dread of the attendance roll call would creep in, filling me with anxiety and anticipation. Would my teacher pronounce my name correctly, or would I endure yet another mispronunciation? Often, I chose silence, letting them mangle my name to avoid the awkwardness of correction.
Years passed, and I found myself in a predominantly white high school nestled in the heart of Manhattan. To me, Manhattan had always seemed like a distant realm, a place I had rarely ventured despite living in New York City.The day I set foot in Manhattan, a mix of nerves and excitement overwhelmed me. Towering skyscrapers welcomed me, a stark contrast to my previous view of Queens as dull.
However, it was during my sophomore year that I had an awakening, one that would reshape my perspective on Queens and my identity forever. I came to realize the beauty of diversity and the comfort it brought. Each morning, I awoke to the harmonious sounds of Latin American music drifting through my window. The lively rhythms of Ecuadorian tunes and the soulful melodies of Guyanese songs revealed the intricate tapestry of cultures woven together in Queens.
My childhood was a testament to the fusion of cultures, a constant dance of Spanglish - a linguistic ballet that wove English and Spanish seamlessly. In my household, this blend was a source of connection, a way for my family to bridge the gap between our heritage and the world around us. It was through Spanglish that I discovered the power of language in shaping identity and preserving culture.
As Hispanic Heritage Month approaches, I reflect on my journey of self-discovery and the celebration of my identity, history, and culture. It is a time when I embrace my name, Dayanara Vazquez Buri, with pride. It is a reminder that my name carries the legacy of my ancestors, a testament to their journey and the sacrifices they made to provide me with opportunities. I now wear my name as a badge of honor, a symbol of resilience, and a connection to my roots.
During this special month, I celebrate not only my own heritage but also the vibrant tapestry of Hispanic cultures that enrich Queens and the entire United States. It is a time to share stories, savor traditional dishes, and participate in cultural events that showcase the diversity within the Hispanic community.
My journey through Spanglish and the challenges I faced growing up as a young Hispanic woman in a diverse but sometimes unaware world have inspired my career aspirations. I've realized that I want to become an immigration lawyer, a profession that allows me to advocate for those who face the same struggles and uncertainties that my family once did. I want to stand as a beacon of hope for immigrants navigating a complex legal system, offering them a voice and a path to a brighter future.
In the end, my name, my experiences, and my journey through Spanglish have shaped me into the person I am today. Hispanic Heritage Month serves as a reminder to celebrate not just where I come from but also the path I am forging ahead.