Students at Bronx Academy of Health Careers have been reading and working on the text from House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros – specifically, the excerpt entitled “My Name”.
In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing
It was my great-grandmother’s name and now it is mine. She was a horse woman too, born like me in the Chinese year of the horse–which is supposed to be bad luck if you’re born female-but I think this is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like the Mexicans, don’t like their women strong.
My great-grandmother. I would’ve liked to have known her, a wild, horse of a woman, so wild she wouldn’t marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carried her off. Just like that, as if she were a fancy chandelier. That’s the way he did it.
And the story goes she never forgave him. She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldn’t be all the things she wanted to be.
Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window.
At school they say my name funny as if the syllables were made out of tin and hurt the roof of your mouth. But in Spanish my name is made out of a softer something, like silver, not quite as thick as sister’s name Magdalena–which is uglier than mine. Magdalena who at least- -can come home and become Nenny. But I am always Esperanza. would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees. Esperanza as Lisandra or Maritza or Zeze the X. Yes. Something like Zeze the X will do.
The 9th and 10th-grade students were given writing prompts by Teaching Artists Pamella Allen and Molly Goldman. The students were given 3-4 minutes to free write on each question:
1) If your name were a type of weather, what would it be? Why?
2) How was your name chosen? Who named you? Are you named after someone? Does your name have meaning? (If students didn’t know, they could create answers using their imaginations.)
3) If you could change your name to something else, would you? What would you choose?
Students revised their free writing, turning it into one piece based on the questions raised in their discussion of Sandra Cisneros. Students were free to develop their own questions or use questions from the piece “The story of the day you were born”, a story or question about someone in your life”.
Students then shared their work with the class. This is Tatiana’s piece:
‘’THE DAY WITH MY GRANDMOTHER’’
One day me and my grandmother went shopping and i can remember that she always smelled like candy that I loved to eat with her it is a type of candy that melts in your mouth and it has chocolate and it taste just like a sweet kiss and we got some pillows and clothes. I still have the pillow case because when I was little I lost the pillow and I was very sad that I lost the pillow but I still have something to remember her by. One day my grandmother became very sick and she passed away and it’s been 7 years since she been gone and I really miss her i was only 8 years old when this happened but now i’m 15 and still miss but I have something that she gave me when I was little so I don’t have to be be sad any more because i have so many memories with her and i have all love from her also never tell a family member that you don’t love them because you don’t know when they won’t be here and you will be sad just like i was it not a good feeling always love people no matter what happens.
# Love Always Taz