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Heritage through language: 'Hablando Heritage' special talks cultural divide and fluency

Rudy Treviño and Barbie Leo spoke with panelists for a deep dive into how Spanish language fluency can affect cultural identity.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — 3NEWS' Domingo Live hosted a panel discussion in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on Sunday. The panel took place as part of KIII's "Hablando Heritage" special and was hosted by Rudy Trevino and Barbie Leo. It featured a deep dive into an important part of Hispanic heritage: language. 

Among the panelists was Texas A&M- Corpus Christi's Dr. Mara Barbosa, who helped lead the conversation about the role the Spanish language can play in a cultural divide faced by members of the Hispanic community. Whether Spanish is a first language spoken with family members, or a person is in the process of learning the it, Barbosa and other panelists met to acknowledge how language can have an impact on cultural identity. 

When it comes to how much, or how little of the Spanish language members of the community speak, panelists agreed that facing a cultural divide is often a hard to avoid. Barbosa shared her culture shock upon realizing that her ability to speak the language was less than celebrated when she moved the area, "When I came here I learned that Spanish here was not prestigious, and that sounded crazy for me because in Brazil it's very prestigious to speak Spanish," she said.

"I was not ready for the ideologies I encountered here.. I was not ready to deal with the ideology that 'your Spanish is not good enough, so just abandon it and focus on English... that is going to be more successful.'"

Dr. Barbosa said that the pressures she and others in the area felt to assimilate years back are part of the reason she's so dedicated to helping her students keep their language alive - and stay rooted in their heritage.

Also, among the "Hablando Heritage" panelists was Joey Gonzales, a young artist and LGBTQ+ activist who spoke about their experience growing up not being able speak Spanish and how now they are trying to learn the language.

Watch the full panel here and tune into Domingo Live on Sunday mornings. 

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