I'm Juan Caminero, this year's winner of the Hispanic roundtable student essay on being a Hispanic-American.
I wonder what a chief of the Taino Tribe would say if he could see his people now. Would he recognize me as one of his own? Would his tribal tongue make sense of my broken Spanish? What if he could follow me around for an entire day? I imagine him standing behind me in class while I place a check next to a box that reads "other".
I picture us walking home from school and the look on his face when he sees that my village is made up of concrete and brick. I like to pretend that - at the end of that day - he would break the language barrier; that he would put one hand on his chest, one hand on mine, and say, "Boricua." As a Latino in America, there is a certain pride and spirituality that you carry with you, keeping traditions alive.
It's the reason my abuela's house smells like spices from Goya. It lives in the mind of a child who doesn't know what it tastes like to speak Spanish but is hungry to know. We might live in a new land but there's a reason that flags from the old one wave here. It's not political or rebellious, but what I like to call a cultural understanding.
America is a land of struggle, victory, and the journey in between. For a young Latino, that journey means knowing where you come from and taking control of where you are going.