Rocio & Nehaya

  • Rocio and Nehaya, New Orleans, LA

“Spanish was my very first language. But my parents wanted to improve their English to get better jobs and to provide for us, so we had a very strict rule growing up that we would only speak English in the house.”

Nehaya’s story:

My mom’s side of the family is from Jordan and my dad is from Palestine. I was born here, I’m one of seven children. Four siblings were born overseas and three were born here in New Orleans.

Everyday I wear something from my Palestinian background—my evil eye necklace. It’s supposed to protect you from certain energies and vibes. Prayer is also very significant. We pray five times a day. My mom throws down in the kitchen too, so food is a big part of our lives. There are certain traditions I’ve been part of since I was seven years old, like fasting for Ramadan.

Rocio’s story:

My mother is Honduran and my father is Mexican. That makes me a first generation Latina. I was born in Baltimore but I’ve lived in New Orleans almost all my entire life. Spanish was my very first language. But my parents wanted to improve their English in order to get better jobs and provide for us, so we had a very strict rule growing up that we would only speak English in the house. Little by little they learned more English and I learned more Spanish.

I think it’s very important for my kids to be able to speak Spanish. It’s vital that we don’t have future generations forget about where they come from. I try to keep that awareness of my heritage by staying connected to other Latinos either here or in other cities. It allows me to feel more comfortable being Latina.

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