Friday, March 23, 2012

Speaking to the Music by Sara Carranza

Whenever people are trying to get to know one another, there is one question that almost always eventually comes up, especially here in the States, and there are many different ways to ask it. What ethnicity are you? What nationality are you? Where’s your family from? Many people then start to divulge the ingredients to their American cocktail, each rightfully said with pride. My ingredients are quite simple. Mix a little Mexico and a little United States together, and you get: Sara Carranza.

I am first generation Mexican-American. Whereas my brother’s first language was Spanish, my first and only language growing up was English. Basically, I knew my ingredients but had absolutely no idea what they meant to me or what they symbolized to others. It took a while to start figuring it out, but my first steps towards understanding who I was, was by learning the Spanish language.

Learning Spanish is a blur to me. I would like to say that it just happened one day, but it was a slow arduous process that I can’t even remember. All I know is that the first word of Spanish I remember learning is “Corazon”.  I was in the backseat with my high tech Walkman listening to a cassette tape by Los Temerarios, while my parents were driving my brother and myself to another one of our extracurricular activities.  How I got the tape is a mystery, but what I do know is that I couldn’t stop listening to one song in particular: “Corazon de otro”. Before I knew what was happening I was asking my mom what the words meant. By the end of the week…I understood the entire song. From knowing nothing, I understood something. Not just the words, but also the style of music and the feelings it evoked. Music gave me my first glimpse into my Mexican-American culture and continues to give me more each day. I can honestly say I spent four years taking high school Spanish and I spent many summers visiting family in Mexico, but the only time my Spanish continues to grow is when I lose myself in music. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Armenian Myths - From the Viewpoint of an Expatriate by Brian Bokhart

Since my arrival in Armenia, I have been given advice on a lot of things, such as when to get married (before 30 or else you will never marry), where not to sit (on the ground as it will make you infertile & at the corner of a table because it means you will not get married) or when to drink vodka (all the time).  

My favorite Armenian myth (up to this point in my stay) was brought to my attention a few weeks ago for the celebration of St. Sargis Day (the Armenian equivalent of Valentine's Day) by my Armenian language teacher, Gayane.  That day at class she asked if I wanted them to pick me up a cookie for St. Sargis Day.  Not hearing anything but the word cookie, I replied with a resounding "YES!!!", only to discover that this cookie was not a cookie in the American sense of the word, but a salty piece of dough that was a tool not only to guarantee a killer thirst, but to determine your future spouse.  Yes, Chips Ahoy ain't got nothing on these cookies.  

You see, the myth states that you are to eat the cookie before bed without drinking anything along with it.  That night, if you are served water by someone in your dreams, that person is to be your future spouse.  Oh, and if you want more confidence in this act, you just need to place a full glass of water next to your bed with a mirror over the top of it.  This will not only provide a great night stand accessory, but is believed by Armenians to provide a clearer recollection of the visitor in your dreams.  

Have an entertaining story about your time abroad?  Email us at and we will consider posting your tale on our blog!