People who marry into the Spanish-speaking community may find themselves assimilating into both a new culture and a new family.
One couple's journey led to overcoming a language barrier, while another merged both of their families into one.
Bob Schaal and Tracie Avila each faced challenges, but they were able to find love and share their stories on what it takes to adjust to another person's culture.
The human mind often wanders towards the edge of its understanding. The edge of understanding is where imagination begins, and things that are beyond reason can exist.
Walking into Dr. Ana Grinberg's office, one can easily recognize a setup common of any other professor who teaches English courses at East Tennessee State University: shelves crammed with books, chairs for students to sit in during conferences and a desk – clean and computer-occupied – in the corner of the room.
Yet the books lining Grinberg’s shelves are not typical of a professor: "Dracula," "The Vampire in Europe," "Gods, Heroes, and Monsters" and a myriad of other monster-related novels. Grinberg will be teaching a course on monsters in the spring of 2015 at ETSU.
Imagine being a passionate soccer fan on a dream trip to the World Cup in Brazil. You are paid to be there because it is a part of your job. Imagine that and you have stepped into the life of Antonio Rusiñol, 27, senior researcher at ESPN Stats & Information Group.
The group does analytics for ESPN Deportes, providing advance statistics for game coverage – ratings, rankings and material that doesn’t usually appear in box scores.
“It’s really a dream come true,” Rusiñol said, “because ESPN was my first real dream job, just because my No. 1 passion is sports.”
Every Thursday evening at Cherokee United Methodist Church in Johnson City, Tenn., an exchange takes place as different tongues learn to speak in one common language.
Leading this conversation is Dr. Rosalind Gann, an East Tennessee State University professor and English as a Second Language advocate. The main goal of this gathering is to equip people whose first language is not English to speak it comfortably and correctly.
Gann has worked with English language learners in many countries. It was there that she realized how the English language is becoming more global.
"One thing I've learned is just how important English is—worldwide—and the scope of this language," she said. "It was, originally, a language of conquerors, of oppressors, and now, it's been transformed into a vehicle for universal communication."
Attorney Solange Adams McDaniel helps immigrants become residents of the U.S., while helping them feel safe again.
McDaniel has a personal perspective on immigration. Had her father not been a citizen of the United States, her coming to the U.S. from Venezuela as a child could have been a much harder process. She is passionate about helping others in situations that could have been her own.
"I meet with clients most of the day, unless I have court in the morning,” said McDaniel, who works in Johnson City, Tennessee. “Mostly what I do is consultations, where I meet with people and determine whether or not they qualify for some type of immigration benefit that can allow them to get a permanent resident card or a visa. I also help defend them if they are already in immigration court proceedings.”
A woman stands before a crowd of fellow North Carolinians, prepared to deliver a speech on a topic of great importance to her.
Carolina Siliceo Perez told how, as a college student, she stood in line to register for classes after the other students, paid out-of-state tuition without having access to financial aid and feared being pulled over every time she drove a car. She experienced these things because she is an illegal immigrant.
The scene was "Moral Monday," an event in Asheville, North Carolina, sponsored by the NAACP to address topics of social reform. Siliceo came to share reasons why she believes the U.S. needs immigration reform.
Tucked away in the back of Mountain View Elementary School's library is a man who is passionate about his job and the work he does for Johnson City Schools.
Fernando De Sousa-Pereira is the Spanish interpreter for all 11 schools in Johnson City, Tennessee. Anyone who greets De Sousa will immediately be met with a firm handshake and a smile.
If a teacher cannot communicate with a child's parents because of a language barrier, De Sousa is called to the school. He is the link between parents and teachers. De Sousa devotes a lot of time and effort into his job.
He works with parents to ensure their child succeeds in school. He wants parents to understand the school system and how it works, which means filling out the load of paperwork students need at the beginning of each school year. He attends parent-teacher conferences if he needs to translate.
Editor's note: Juan Chiu died Feb. 21 at the age of 78.
Sometimes men who played soccer for Juan Chui as kids tell him how he inspired them.
Coach Chiu, who once served as a soccer coach at Milligan College, also coached youth soccer in Johnson City, Tennessee, for 35 years.
“I think that one of my favorite parts of coaching is seeing former players, and they remember playing soccer for me,” said Chiu, who has seen his players become successful in professions such as law, acting and business.
Gripping the wooden handle of a shovel, a young man stiffens his arm muscles to force the metal tip into the ground, breaking up a heap of sod. He dumps the sod into a wheelbarrow and begins the process all over again.
For some, this scenario might bring to mind a day of tiring yard work or an episode of a do-it-yourself television show. For others, repetitive, physical labor is a way of life.
“El valiente dura hasta que el cobarde quiere.” (The bully stands only as long as the coward wants him to.) — Mexican-American proverb
They hid the physical and emotional scars of abuse for years, suppressing fear, pain and isolation behind the curtain of a “normal” life. However, silence nearly cost them their lives.
Irene Castellon, 19, is a bright, beautiful college student who hopes to use her Spanish degree to help Latino Americans. Yet until a year ago, college wasn’t an option for her because of her immigration status.
Currently, undocumented immigrants in the U.S. cannot receive financial aid for college. And because proof of legal status is required to open a bank account in the U.S., they cannot receive loans, either.
Javier Martinez Vargas sat in a booth one day last fall, counting the money he made waiting tables that afternoon at El Matador in Johnson City, Tenn.
A customer asked him if he was planning on doing anything for Hispanic Heritage Month. Martinez Vargas, a Mexican national and legal permanent resident of the U.S., shook his head. Then the customer asked him what he thought about the word ‘Hispanic.’
“I don’t really care what they call me,” Martinez Vargas said. “To me, [Latino] sounds better than Hispanic or Mexican.”
Under the wooden rafters of Notre Dame Catholic Church in Greeneville, Tenn., a young girl walks slowly up the aisle on the way to her womanhood. She is flanked by her mother and stepfather, and she follows a procession of young ladies in slim red dresses and gentlemen in white Navy officer’s uniforms. Her dress is bright red and voluminous. A silver tiara sits atop her head. Her name is Leslie, and today is her day; today is her quinceañera.
Eva Becerra y su esposo Raúl Rendón han seguido sus sueños tranquilamente. Ellos son los dueños de la Carnicería y Deli Mexicana Doña Eva, en Johnson City.
En un martes por la tarde tranquilo, Becerra, Rendón, y uno o dos asistentes trabajan en la cocina preparando comida mexicana de diferentes estilos pero mayormente tamales. La puerta de enfrente suena una o dos veces cuando llegan clientes. Ellos recogen sus pedidos rápidamente y siguen su camino. Eva regresa a la cocina de nuevo.