When PCC English professor Bryan Gonzalez walks into his office in the C building, he enters the room smiling. For those that do know Gonzalez, he is a very happy and charismatic English Literature professor who always makes people smile. He is first generation born in the U.S.
Originating from Mexico, Gonzalez’s mother Maria De Lourdes was born in Mexticacan, Jalisco, Mexico. She was brought to live in the United States after she married Gonzalez’s father at age eighteen. His father Juan Gonzalez was born in Yahualica, Jalisco Mexico. And was brought to live in United States at a very young age around four or five years old, where he learned to speak English.
Although Gonzalez’s parents both spoke Spanish, he grew up in a family structure in which he heard a combination of both languages being spoken.
“We learned a lot of Spanish from my mom and whenever my dad was around that’s where we learned our English, so it was kinda like this combination … where we get this one two punch from both sides” said Gonzalez.
Now that Gonzalez is older and has a job and family, he has stopped going to Mexico every year for three to four months of the year like when he was much younger. As a result of living a different lifestyle as an adult and being surrounded by more English, his Spanish has been slowly fading away.
“I do try to do it when I can, whenever I can, but it’s just, I think it’s just uh, something that slowly fades because you have less of that influence you know what I mean? You have less of the influence, I don’t want it to fade, but I think that it just kinda goes along that route. It kinda just happens” says Gonzalez.
A difference that Gonzalez sees in himself when he compares himself to his parents is that he is concerned that his children will not know their Mexican heritage, as well as his wife Susan’s Chinese heritage.
His lifestyle is different than his children’s in the sense that Gonzalez was constantly traveling to Mexico in the summer to visit his family and was able to keep that strong connection with his culture and family. His concern is not only about teaching his children their Mexican culture as he would like for them to learn, but it is also his wife’s Chinese culture that worries him and finds of equal importance for his children to grow up in and learn.
In his home, Gonzalez does his best to incorporate Spanish so that his children can learn a little bit more, and is wife Susan has also began picking up on some Spanish words as well. Gonzalez’s children are Chinese-Mexican American but he is not teaching them Spanish as constantly as he would like, at least with his daughter since his son is still a baby. He sees the difference in how he grew up being close to his maternal side of the family and visiting them in the summer as compared to how his daughter is not experiencing the same closeness to the language and family in Mexico.
“A lot of what your parents make you be a part of, um when they aren’t around anymore and you start to do your own thing, have your own life I mean you start learning your own way when your parents aren’t there as much to influence you” says Gonzalez.
Gonzalez’s parents were not concerned about his ability to speak either Spanish or English because his parents come from a very deep and rich culture. They knew that living in the United States would imply that he would learn English and they were not concerned in regards to whether he would speak Spanish or not. They especially his mother, were there for him to make a connection back to his roots, especially since he stayed in Mexico for a enough time that it allowed for him to stay in contact with the culture and the language.
One thing Gonzalez makes clear as to how his life has changed.
“We adapt,” he said. “We kinda change without realizing it.”