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Reconnecting With My Roots: 12 Ways to Keep My Latino Heritage Alive

Speak Garifuna—For those unfamiliar with the term Garifuna, it’s used to describe a group of people, as well as our language and culture. According to many, Garifuna people are descendents of shipwrecked slaves who landed in St. Vincent, and, ultimately, settled in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize, and St. Vincent. The language is a mix of Arwak, Carib, French and Spanish and it’s been passed down orally until very recently. While I do understand some Garifuna, you won’t be having any full-blown conversations with me in it…yet. Sadly, like me, many young Garifunas don’t speak it and it’s a dying dialect. Both my parents speak it fluently and I look forward to learning it from them, and may even take a class or two.

Read one document a week—I probably read Spanish better than I speak it, so this won’t be too much of an issue. Whether it’s a magazine or book, I’d like to get into the habit of reading in Spanish.

Visit another Spanish-speaking country—I’ve had my eye on Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala for some time now. I see myself at at least one in 2014.

Learn family recipes—I love to eat! My mother and grandmother can throw down in the kitchen, but many of the recipes aren’t documented anywhere. They eyeball amounts and measurements, which can make it tricky to learn traditional dishes like machuca (mashed plantains in soup), tamales, or tortillas, a favorite of mine. I want my kids to enjoy these dishes like I did growing up, which means I need to get in the kitchen.

Restaurant Hop—Not all Latinos eat the same food. (Please commit that to memory. Thanks!) Hence, why there are lots of foods I can try and I’m looking forward to tasting them when I restaurant hop. Also, ones I do know may be prepared differently and I can learn a thing or two.

Interview my abuela—Words can’t describe how much this woman means to me and the role she plays in our family. She’s wise and, along with my grandfather, sacrificed so much to come to this country. While I’ve heard a story or two, I’d love to document it.

Stroll through museums—El Museo del Barrio is only a few train stops away, so that’s a start. I’d also like to go to museums when I venture abroad, or to other states.

How do you plan to reconnect with your roots? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section, below, or on Twitter (@aintilatina) or Facebook.

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  • Dina Lineth

    There are garifuna language classes being offered at Casa Yurumein in the Bronx. The next round of class should start in march I think. Let me know if if you’re interested. 🙂

    • Janel Martinez

      I’m definitely interested! Please keep me posted on that 🙂