An interview with Ivania Fernandez
Interview done by Latoya Wilson
Tell me about your experience as a hispanic student in American schools?
Overall it was a good experience. I don’t have any bad memories. However, a while ago there weren’t a lot of hispanics in the Herndon area so there were no celebrations.
I was an ESOL student until 4th grade. I went to Forest Edge ES in Reston, Clear View ES and Herndon ES, Herndon Middle and High School. My high school counselor encouraged me to go to college. I went to George Mason University.
I still remember to this day my ESOL teacher Ms. Green. She was really warm. One day she showed us how to make butter and we had crackers. It was relatable, we could all relate to the language of food.
I still remember one of my friends from Pakistan wearing her traditional native attire to school. Some students would laugh at her because they didn’t understand. Once the school started doing International Night the students gained positive exposure to other cultures.We learned about different foods, cultures and environments. I finally felt like it was something I could share and connect with.
What advice would you give educators, parents and students about navigating their way through the educational system as a hispanic student?
It’s hard to give advice because I know teachers have a set curriculum. If you were able to teach more about the contributions that Latin Americans made in American society it would help us have something to look forward to and be proud of who we are! It is important to have celebrations like International Night.
When I was in school my spanish teacher introduced me to Paulo Coelho, I in turn went and learned more about him on my own. There are so many artists, authors and contributors that educators can expose students to. Sometimes our parents don’t have time to teach us this, because they have come over here to work. So making sure the students are exposed to their culture in school is important.