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So far daruma has created 37 blog entries.

February 2023

60. Crossing the Borderlands

2023-02-01T14:04:08-05:00By |Episodes|

Episode 60. Crossing the Borderlands of America's Immigration Brenda Piñero “I do consider Puerto Rico a borderland of the United States,” says Brenda Piñero of her homeland. Brenda left the island—an American territory rather than a state—after getting her law degree at the University of Puerto Rico. But she could not stay away from borderlands. She’s now an attorney who is part of a pro bono asylum representation project based in Harlingen, Texas. The border with Mexico is a scant 28 miles away. Brenda works [...]

January 2023

59: From Fast-Food Worker to Renowned Film Critic: Carlos Aguilar and Why DACA Is Important

2023-02-02T14:16:33-05:00By |Episodes|

EPISODE 59: From Fast-Food Worker to Renowned Film Critic: Carlos Aguilar and Why DACA Is Important “My dad died in 2018 and I wasn’t able to go to his funeral. It was too much of a risk.” For the film critic Carlos Aguilar to have left his home in the US to attend his father’s funeral in Mexico would have put his re-entry into the United States in jeopardy. A native of Mexico City who has lived and worked in the US since he was young, Carlos is part of the immigration [...]

58: Reclaiming the Language That History Wanted Lost

2023-02-02T14:16:16-05:00By |Episodes|

EPISODE 58: Reclaiming the Language That History Wanted Lost At Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Newton, MA, Priscilla reads to youngsters from her children’s book, A Twisty Vine. For many young readers, it offers their first taste of Taíno, with words and phrases popping up on the pages. Imagine being told you don’t exist. And not just you, but everyone like you. All you have to do is read some earlier accounts of the history of America. Or even later ones that drew from these histories. What you’re told [...]

December 2022

In Every Taíno Headdress, a Story

2023-02-02T14:21:16-05:00By |Articles|

To a casual observer, the headdresses that Priscilla Colón and her husband, Ely, are wearing are in this photo are simply colorful and eye-catching. But what the cofounders of Casa Areyto have on their heads are, in many ways, their personal profiles as Taíno. If you’ve listened to Episode 58 of our podcast, you’ll appreciate just how remarkable this is, given the Taíno’s precarious history as Native Americans in the Caribbean after 1492. The Taíno people were long considered lost, together with their language—but never by Priscilla, whose own tested DNA proves otherwise. She is among [...]

57. How the New York Mets Turned a Green Beret into a Polyglot

2023-02-02T14:16:01-05:00By |Episodes|

EPISODE 57: How the New York Mets Turned a Green Beret into a Polyglot A benefit of bilingualism you may not have considered: how useful it can be when dropping into countries—literally—to engage in a US Army Special Forces mission. That’s just one of the never-thought-of-that-before ways that Jack Clarke, a retired Army colonel who’s now a professor of national security studies, has used the several languages he speaks. In Steve’s conversation with him, Jack reveals how global languages have always been essential to the US military—often, in ways many of [...]

November 2022

The Surprising Truth About American Bilingualism: What the Data Tells Us

2023-02-02T14:21:49-05:00By |Articles|

We Americans think we suck at languages. We particularly think we suck when compared with European countries, “where everybody speaks three or four languages.” Yet this view of our country is outdated. The surprising truth is that the United States is a world leader in bilingualism. This truth matters because the skills that American bilinguals possess not only help those individuals advance in their careers, but taken together, American bilinguals are key to building American soft power. By bilingual, I mean someone who actually uses two or more languages on a daily basis. It’s not the [...]

56. For a Star of Classical Piano, Languages Hold the Key

2023-02-02T14:15:33-05:00By |Episodes|

56. For a Star of Classical Piano, Languages Hold the Key Andrew von Oyen is one of the only Americans in his field who brings bilingualism to the concert stage. “You never dreamed, did you, that a piano could be made to express all that?” That’s Marcel Proust, the early 20th-century French writer who penned In Search of Lost Time. How was he able to time-travel into the future and know how perfectly those words would describe the work of the classical pianist Andrew von Oeyen? Despite the Old [...]

March 2022

Welcoming Immigrants Through Workplace English

2023-02-02T14:21:58-05:00By |Articles|

Mary Cardenas and Steve Leveen are huddled—as much as one can huddle on Zoom—over the short questionnaire that Mary wants to prepare for her small business. A trained chef, she plans to prepare and deliver healthy meals to people in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives. Steve, the cofounder and former CEO of a national retail venture, is giving her pointers. “Right now the form says Mary’s Kitchen,” Steve tells her. “I thought it was going to be Mary’s Healthy Kitchen. That’s distinctive.” Mary quickly agrees. After all, she’s  been able to lower her [...]

Learning More than a Language: Learning Respect for a Culture, Too

2023-02-02T14:22:41-05:00By |Articles|

“That’s so weird.” That was the reaction of a five-year-old boy in Brunswick, Maine, when Margaret Boyle, an associate professor of Romance languages at nearby Bowdoin College, was reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to a group of kindergarteners. It wasn’t the caterpillar’s feasting on junk food that perplexed the little boy; it was the fact that Margaret was reading the Eric Carle classic in Spanish. The youngster’s pronouncement took her by surprise. “Growing up in Los Angeles in a Mexican-American family, being close to Hispanic cultures was normal for me,” says Margaret, who is also Bowdoin’s director [...]

May 2021

“Talking Leaves” The Cherokee Syllabary of Sequoyah

2023-02-02T14:22:35-05:00By |Articles|

Editor’s note: Be sure to listen to our podcast on saving the Cherokee language—Episode 30 of America the Bilingual, “A New Generation of Cherokee Speakers Rises.” When is an alphabet not an alphabet? When it is the syllabary of the Cherokee language. A Cherokee named Sequoyah invented it in 1821. He had seen non-Native soldiers reading from what he called “talking leaves”—words on paper—and was determined to find a way for the Cherokee to do the same. Sequoyah (ca. 1776 – ca. 1843) was used to making tools for his work as both a blacksmith and [...]

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