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May 2018 - Emiko Badillo

Motivated to study Spanish by her family background - she’s the daughter of a Mexican-American father and Japanese mother - learning one of the languages she grew up around, but didn’t speak, is greatly meaningful for Emiko. Deeply dedicated to ethical eating and animal rights, she is co-owner of the vegan grocery store “Food Fight”, an activist in social/racial justice movements, and generally passionate about “fighting oppression against humans and non-humans”. Despite working everyday on these inspiring projects, she always makes it to Spanish class and carves out time to study. A delight to be around, her unfailingly positive attitude contributes to cultivating a fun and welcoming learning atmosphere for all. We admire Emiko in her tenacity as a student and in her commitment to her life’s work, and look forward to continuing to enjoy her presence and to witness the fruits of her hard work.

Name: Emiko Badillo
Occupation: Vegan grocer
Time Studying at Tierra: One year

1) Why are you studying Spanish?

"Being third-generation Chicana from San Antonio, Texas, I grew up around my Mexican family and Mexican culture. But I'm also, first-generation Japanese-American, so my parents' common language to speak to each other is English. I only got to hear Spanish when my dad spoke with his family and friends and Japanese it was the same with my mom.

My dad's first language is Spanish, and he grew up in the late 40s and 50s when there was so much more shame and societal pressure to assimilate to be more like white America. Like a lot of third-gen Latinx folks, I grew up monolingual. I've always identified more with being Mexican than Japanese because I was more immersed in that culture growing up. But a lot of people just assume I'm Asian because of my first name and from my facial features, so I grew up never feeling fully accepted into either culture. I'm studying Spanish to be more in touch with my roots and to feel more whole, even if Spanish is a colonial language to Indigenous people of Mexico".

2) What is your favorite part about your experience here at Tierra?

"Being able to hear and see my progress. Laura has been such a great teacher, and I learn a lot even from seeing her patience and skills in teaching. I like knowing by coming here, I'm supporting good people like her, the other staff, and a small, family-run business".

3) Can you tell us of a time you have been able to use what you have learned studying here?

"I like practicing and ordering food at my favorite Taqueria Los Gorditos".

¡Felicidades Emiko!