Date: Sep 18th, 2006 6:23:29 pm - Subscribe
My observation took place in a funeral service very different than one that would take place in my own church. A very dear friend’s husband was killed in an auto accident. He left behind his wife, three children, both parents, two brothers, and a sister. He was a very young man of only 27 years old. Needless to say, his entire family, circle of friends and acquaintances were very upset.
All funerals are difficult, but I expected this one to be the worst ever. I was greatly mistaken. Funerals as I know them are very solemn and quiet. This funeral was extremely solemn to begin with. His young family sat in the front, just as they would in a protestant funeral. They were accompanied by his parents, siblings, and then, of course, the rest of his family. Again, this was all very familiar.
Now things begin to get a little uncomfortable. The priest begins speaking in Spanish. After a short time has past, the priest begins to speak in English. He goes back and forth from Spanish to English for the entire service. After the priest finished speaking, several people from the audience spoke to us about the deceased. Again, they spoke in Spanish and then in English. As the speakers went on, the people in attendance wept and cheered. Depending on what was being said by the speaker. If it was something happy the speaker had to say about the deceased, some of the crowd would cheer. If there was sadness in the story, of course, weeping followed. At the end of the funeral, the young man’s father raised his guitar up over his head and began to play festive “Spanish” music, as they all danced out of the building. WOW!! What a great idea to celebrate someone being able to move on to be with their Father in heaven. I was completely struck by this.
This behavior was very different from what I am accustomed to. I was definitely the minority in the crowd, not only by skin color, but by religion and language. I seemed to be the only one in attendance that was not Catholic. I was probably the only one in the building that was not able to fluently speak both Spanish and English. I am sure this was not the case, but it certainly seemed that way at the time. I really gained an understanding about being “outside my comfort zone” during this funeral. I have come to respect other people’s beliefs more than I might once have.
This experience helped me to imagine what it must be like for a new student to come into a new classroom, especially one with special needs or who speaks a different language. The latter is much more likely to happen in our part of the country. This experience really helped me to realize how easy and how often judgments are made on each and every person. Sometimes Hispanic children are passed off as being “slow” or “unmotivated” by those who make judgments. I have always tried to have a different frame of mind, but now, after seeing so many people in one service speak two languages, I will have no problem understanding that the Hispanic children who come to my class are very capable of learning whatever they want to.
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