By Hispanically Speaking News

Politicians, academics, writers and other representatives of Latino culture took the first step on Wednesday in promoting an initiative that seeks to save and preserve Spanish in New York.

“Who doesn’t like it if our children speak two languages? We win when our kids enrich themselves with another culture,” said Dominican activist and writer Mary Grateroux, emphasizing that there is no contradiction when kids learn the mother tongue of their parents simultaneously with English.

That was the premise that on Wednesday led New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, also of Dominican origin, to call upon different sectors of Hispanic society in the Big Apple.

Espaillat thus lent support to addressing a concern of cultural activist Ramon Badia that the children of Latino immigrants are not learning their parents’ language.

Badia described himself as a person “in love with the unity of our peoples” as pushed by Simon Bolivar, and he recalled that Spanish is the language that has maintained the unity of Latin American countries with Spain for more than 500 years.

“This was a good start. I think the talent and knowledge of how we can move forward on this project exists,” the senator told Efe after the two-hour meeting that was also attended by the New York branch of the Cervantes Institute, Javier Rioyo.

State Assemblyman Nelson Castro said that the initiative has to include the immigrant parents, many of whom have not mastered Spanish because they speak indigenous languages or they don’t do so correctly because they are illiterate.

“We have to share what was said at the meeting, to defend our peculiarities but also the strength that joins us culturally and idiomatically,” Rioyo said.

Ana Maria Garcia, the dean of Hostos Community College in The Bronx, emphasized that many immigrants have left their countries out of economic necessity “without attaining levels of education in their own language and they cannot teach their children Spanish although they have the desire to do so.”

This article was first published by Hispanically Speaking News.

[Photo by tnarik]

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