February 8, 2020
Project 1: Memoir
Part One: Analysis of Mentor Text
Bharati is an Indian immigrant that came to the United States in 1961. She came here in
order to earn her degree in M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in literature. She has a sister named Mira that also
came to the states to study child psychology and pre-school education. Her short story, “Two
Ways to Belong in America” was written in September 1996. I think that some of the important
context that this short story has is the emotion that has been put behind writing it. Another
important context that we should understand is the culture shock that both of these sisters are
going through especially when it comes to them getting married to men’s that their father did not
choose. The discourse community that the author is targeting is the people that come to the
United States from a different country and experience culture shock when they get here. I chose
this story as my mentor text because I am from Poland. I may not come here to get a degree, but
I was adopted into an American family where I didn’t know any English and experienced one of
the hardest culture shocks anyone can experience.
The community that the author is writing about is the immigrant community in the United
States. Specifically, those that come from India and have to adjust to the American culture. This
is an outsider community that the author is targeting because she is walking the same shoes as
many others that are immigrants in this country. At the same time, she is targeting an insider
community because she is also targeting the United States government and how they are
changing the immigrant laws. In the story her sister said, “If America wants to play the
manipulative game, I'll play it, too.” This quote shows that the government does not want
immigrants to be able to have dual citizenship and visit back and forth from India to America.
Therefore, Mira decided to become a U.S. citizen to please the government. The assumptions
that are being challenged are that people who come to America from overseas to study don’t
have to worry about citizenship or anything else. Which this story shows that, that is not the case.
We have been struggling with immigration for a long time and those people that are doing their
best to have a better life just get shut down because they are not “actual” citizens. Although, they
are trying to be and live their life freely. Another assumption that is being challenged is that the
people from India must always follow their culture and religion when it comes to marriage. In
the story the author states, “Mira married an Indian student in 1962 who was getting his business
administration degree at Wayne State University.” This shows that although the father did not
approve of this man that Mira married, she still did. And he was also Indian so she stuck with her
One of the creative techniques that the author used is that she stated exactly how her
sister was feeling when they were talking over the phone to each other about being in the U.S.
and how the government treats immigrants. Showing true emotion and really expressing the
frustration made me almost feet it on the inside as I was reading the short story. In their phone
conversation Mira showed her true feelings when she said,
"I feel used," Mira raged on the phone the other night. "I feel manipulated and discarded.
This is such an unfair way to treat a person who was invited to stay and work here because of her
talent. My employer went to the LN.S. and petitioned for the labor certification…
How dare America now change its rules in midstream?
If America wants to make new rules curtailing benefits of legal immigrants, they should
apply only to immigrants who arrive after those rules are already in place."
Another technique that I really liked is how she separated each paragraph and how well
the flow of the story was. I felt that each paragraph started with a new topic and a new
significance of their story. It made is seem like she really thought out what she wanted to put into
the story and what were the things that didn’t need to be put in the story. The detail and emotion
behind it all is what really drew me to her story.
This author’s short story uses pathos couple of times throughout it. One place that she
uses pathos is when she describes that her and her sister both married men that their father did
not approve of. She stated “I was prepared for (and even welcomed) the emotional strain that
came with marrying outside my ethnic community. In 33 years of marriage, we have lived in
every part of North America. By choosing a husband who was not my father's selection.” This
shows that you can be happy even if a father doesn’t choose your husband for you. She went
against her tradition but remained within her culture by marrying an Indian man that was also in
America trying to earn his degree. The author really uses the marriage as one of the main culture
assumptions because, in India, the father is supposed to choose the man that his daughter merry.
This is what a lot of people in America understand from learning different cultures throughout
the years. This story is a perfect example that a person does not have to always follow their
This text has taught me a lot about what to put into my memoir and what I should take
out. I will definitely try my best to incorporate the conversations with my sisters that we had
before we made the decision to get adopted and agreeing on the American family that wanted to
adopt us. I will also incorporate all the thoughts and emotions that I was going through when I
came to America and what huge culture shock it was.
Part 2: Memoir
Community: Families that choose to adopt kids specifically from a different country.
Memory/Event: August 29th, 2003 – getting adopted by an American family
Situation: Getting adopted
Conflict: Do we want to get adopted by an American family and move to a different
country, or do we stay in the orphanage and wait for a polish family to chose to adopt
my sisters and I?
Action: conversations with my sisters/orphanage staff/future adoptive family –
Climax: Coming to a decision
Resolution: It wasn’t hard coming to a decision to get adopted by an American family
because the pros out weight the cons.
Audience: Those who think that adopting kids from a different country is scary and hard
Assumptions to clarify: That all foreign adoptions fall through and it doesn’t last once the kids
get older and move out of the house.
Meaning/Significance: Clarifying this helps those who would want to adopt from a different
country put their minds at ease and gives them hope that it can be a successful adoption. It also
will show that no matter if you adopt children or not, at the end of the day family is everything.
Part One: Mentor Text Analysis
In the short memoir, Se Habla Espanol, Tanya Barrientos brings to light the cultural
divide between Spanish speaking Latinos and the Latinos who don’t have the innate knowledge
of the Spanish language. Barrientos wasn’t taught Spanish by her Spanish speaking parents
because they “whole-heartedly embraced the notion of the American melting pot.” (1) She tells
this personal story for those who can relate to her: being of Hispanic origin but not “fitting in”
with her Hispanic community because she is not fluent in her native language, but also not
“fitting in” with her “Anglo American” acquaintances because she is brown. This memoir is also
written for those who feel a divide between them and their own ethnic communities because of a
language barrier. She challenges the notion that all native-born people are inherently multilingual
by expounding the very real, intangible border within the Latino community.
To appeal to the Latino audience, the author employs some Spanish words and phrases
throughout her memoir. To appeal to those who may not know much about the Latino
community, she provides a backstory in which we learn that originally, Barrientos enjoyed being
a paradox. She “liked being the brown girl who defied expectations.” (1) Her friends would tell
her that she didn’t seem Mexican, and she liked the thought of that. Growing up in the 70s in the
U.S., the melting pot concept was embraced nationwide. Consequently, assimilation was the
main priority for her family, so did not see the need to teach their children Spanish once moving
to the states. She then goes on to explain that as she grew older, times became more progressive
and society began to value multilingual individuals. This shift was concerning for her in relation
to her ethnic community. She had advanced out of her impressionable years and missed the
opportunity to learn Spanish from her parents. Her intended audience can relate to this social
conflict of not having the innate knowledge of their native language because of the migration to
the states for an integrated life.
In regards to the structure of her memoir, Barrientos uses a flashback and frame story to
provide her readers with context to the initial story that was introduced in her memoir. She
begins by explaining her current dilemma of not being able to enroll in a class to learn Spanish
without being slightly ridiculed for not already being cognizant of her native language. This is
followed by a frame story flashback to when and why her family moved to the states from
Guatemala. She explains the social environment in which she grew up and how it shaped her
childhood perspective. She also tells of a time when her sisters and her mother were disrespected
by her school’s registrar for being Mexican, which is told to provide a vessel for any minorities
to relate to her story. As she grew older and became more aware, she admits that she equated
speaking Spanish with being poor. Then, (not so) suddenly, society shifted within the next two
decades of her life, and people in the U.S. began to embrace their ethnic identities. “The Spanish
language was supposedly the glue that held the new Latino community together. But in my case
it was what kept me apart.” (2) Barrientos reveals these truths in an effort to connect to her
audience and to create a sense of understanding of the social environment she was submerged in,
and how it inversely affected her inner thoughts and emotions. After learning the reasoning
behind her class enrollment, we then circulate back and Barrientos admits that she was a bit
embarrassed. She noted that her bilingual friends did comforted her by telling her that she was
making too much of it, and that her heritage and appearance were enough to “legitimize my
membership in the Latin American club.” (2) Throughout the piece, Barrientos engages her
audience through a strong sense of pathos. There are constant references to societal appeals
while she explains her rollercoaster of emotions as she is coming of age. As she appeals to her
audience, we gauge that Barrientos was constantly questioning her sense of self. She concludes
her memoir by suggesting that maybe there is a community of thousands of Latinos who don’t
speak Spanish, and are learning behind closed doors, and are afraid to admit it. She associates
herself with this community and proudly signs off by saying “Aqui estoy. Spanish-challenged
and pura Latina.” (2)
My memoir will personally be inspired by Barrientos’ structure, use of description, and
internal reflection. She introduces her current dilemma, provides context on her external
environment and how it lead to her placing herself in this unclaimed middle ground within her
Part Two: Memoir
Still working on a title :/
Imagine a beautiful Saturday morning in the sunny city of San Diego. It 73 degrees, partly
cloudy, a perfect day for say, a Frappuccino. Let us go there, to a Starbucks in San Diego. Here I
am, behind the counter, serving customers to the best of my ability. I greet customers as they
walk in, making conversation, and teasing my regulars about never changing their orders. I am
working on the café orders at the espresso machine near the hand-off plane. One white middleaged gentleman comes in, orders his beverage, and stands at the hand-off plane watching my
“Hello, sir! How is your day going?” I entertain his silent plea to notice him, trying to wave the
awkward tension of him hovering.
He doesn’t answer right away, in fact, he never answers my question at all. Instead, “Those are
some long eyelashes you’ve got.” Neither an answer to my question nor a compliment. An
unwanted statement, but at any rate I say, “Thank you.” Now while I do wear eyelash extensions,
the statement seemed almost comical. Like a child pointing at a pregnant woman saying,
“Mommy, she has a big tummy.” Use social cues, Captain Obvious.
Now I’ve broken eye contact with him and I am working while attempting to hold the
conversation. Some more silence along with the hovering and he says, “Are you in school?”
To which I reply, “Yes.” Trying to keep it short and sweet at this point, because he has already
made me uncomfortable.
“I’m currently at San Diego State.”
“You’re probably studying, what? A major in communications or something?”
This shook me. One, because why on earth would this stranger begin assuming my major? What
information does he have to go on besides my physical appearance? Also, what is wrong with
majoring in communications? Though he never explicitly said there was anything wrong with the
major, it seemed from the beginning he thought little of me from his assumptions and his
Still, not making eye contact, busy making drinks, I call out other customer’s names in between
this painful conversation. “I’m studying architecture.” I replied, which is technically true as an
Urban Studies major, we study a lot of architects and their work.
“Ahhhh okay.” His voice faded a bit.
“Is this your iced white mocha with no whipped cream?” I am trying to get this man his order so
he can proceed with his day and move as far away from me as he can.
“Yeah, that’s it.”
“Cool! Here’s your white mocha, you’re all set, have a good one.” I say all at once and return to
making drinks, still no eye contact. I see from the corner of my eye he exits the store. I roll my
eyes and shake my head. Microaggressions are real. While they may be micro, they can really
take a toll on your mood, and if you’re not careful, your self-esteem.
As a child, I had the luxury of growing up in one of the most diverse cities in the United States:
Vallejo, CA. My friend group was as diverse as they come, and it wasn’t until my freshman year
of high school that I encountered my first personal experience with imposed black stereotypes.
Since the age of five I have played softball and been the only “boy” in a household having four
daughters. My dad was always my coach, on and off the field. I played several other sports and
was always the daredevil tomboy.
One summer, on my travel ball softball team, we had just begun the season and at practice I was
told to play left field. We were running drills, and while the infielders were making plays, I hear
my center fielder yell “HAAAY SHANAYNAY!”
I turn and look, and she is looking directly at me, smiling and waving. I was absolutely clueless
as to what she was doing or why she was doing it, so I yell back, “HAAAAY SHANAYNAY!” I
smile, and she says it again. I say it back, the exact same tone and everything.
I get into the zone of catching pop flies and making plays, I forget all about the episode in the
outfield. We finish out the rest of the three-hour practice, and I’m reminded of my teammates
remarks as we are packing our bat bags.
“Hey, why were you saying ‘Hey Shanaynay’ out there?” I ask.
“I was saying ‘hi’. Isn’t that your name?”
I start laughing, “What? No! My name’s Delana.”
We’re both laughing now, and I am completely oblivious to the gross assumption that is some
black stereotypical name.
I get home, thinking absolutely nothing of the encounter. After dinner, I’m reminded of it once
again, so I tell my parents. As I am sharing the story, I’m laughing as if I’m relaying a funny
joke someone told me at the store. My parents’ mood went from amiable to troubled very
quickly. When I was finished, their faces left me confused.
There was a bit of a silence, and then they told me, “This is not funny. That was not okay for her
to assume your name like that. Do you remember Shanaynay from that show, Martin? Is that
who you want to be like?” (Shanaynay is a fictional character from a black sit-com who carries
out every black stereotype there is: big boobs, big butt, long nails, speaks improperly, always
chewing gum, has an attitude, everything! She’s actually played by the male lead comedian,
Martin Lawrence, in women’s clothing. She’s ridiculous, honestly, but the show is hilarious).
I don’t know if it was the serious mood change, the concerned looked on my parents’ face, or the
final realization of just what happened in the outfield, but I began to cry.
“No, I don’t wanna be like Shanaynay.” I said through tears.
“Don’t let anyone call you that ever. It’s not okay that that is how she sees you. What’s the name
of the teammate who called you that?”
After the tears, I gave the name of the player who was yelling at me in the outfield. I later
learned that they had a talk with that player’s parents.
While my mother’s voice was soft and calm, her message hit hard. She gave me a lesson on
identity, names, and how important it is that we don’t allow others to reduce us to generalizations
and stereotypes, because we are so much more.
While we may not be able to singlehandedly change the world and dismantle systematic racism,
the beautiful Michelle Obama once said “I can’t make people not afraid of black people. I don’t
know what’s going on. I can’t explain what’s happening in [their] head. But maybe if I show up
every day as a human, a good human, doing wonderful things, loving my family, loving your
kids, taking care of things that I care about — maybe, just maybe that work will pick away at the
scabs of your discrimination. Maybe that slowly will unravel it.” From the remarks about our
hair or assumptions that we are all angry or violent, or that we can all dance, don’t have a present
father, whatever it may be; the small remarks get under our beautiful, melanin coated skin. All
we have is the love and kindness in our hearts. If we show up everyday and challenge the sexist,
misogynistic, homophobic, or racist stereotypes we can be the change we want to see in the
world. That is me, and if this is you, imagine all of the other mes and yous who have
experienced silent aggressions. You are far from alone.
Reem Hanna Al-Kass
February 17, 2020
Part 1: Analysis of Mentor Text
Sandra Cisneros is the author of “Only Daughter” which was written in 1995. In the
mentor text, she states that she is Mexican, which is an important biographical context to know.
Her dad thought it would be a good idea to attend college only so that she can find a husband.
This is still common in Mexican families even to this day where they think that daughters are
only destined to become someone’s wife. However, in the mid 1990’s it was way more
common. Sandra Cisneros’s discourse community she is writing about is daughters (insiders).
More specifically, girls’ fathers who have the same mindset as her dad’s (outsiders). She stated
that everything she has ever written is for her dad so she can win his approval. She is mainly
targeting outsiders so they can understand how many daughters are going through the same thing
that she did. What drew me to pick this article as my ...
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