My name is pronounced I-lean, hence my silly title. My name is Aileen, with a silent A. My last name is Palma, which I always used to be kind of embarrassed of, because it meant “palm trees” in Spanish. And to my younger self that wasn’t as cool as my grandma’s maiden name “Rosales.” As I grew up though, I became really proud of my last name, and I realized you find palm trees in the some of the best places, so it grew on me.
Growing up I didn’t speak fluent Spanish. I am first generation American, and I couldn’t communicate very well in my parent’s native language. I was still treated differently though. I remember coming home to tell my mom that “I’m Mexican” when I was in kindergarten because that’s what the other kids said. She gave me this annoyed look and said, “you aren’t Mexican.” That’s all she told me at the time, but later I found out my family is from El Salvador. This is a country most Americans have never heard of. It is a small country, dealing with it’s own problems, but I am proud of my heritage.
Currently I go to Colorado State University, and I love my school. However it’s always been kind of weird being one of the only Latinas in classes. So it would be nice to see other Latinos, or even other minorities, in my classes. Conserving the environment isn’t just a “white” problem. And it is sad to see that there aren’t as many bilingual speakers in National Parks and Spanish signs on the trails. I am glad to see that there is a drive to get more Latinos involved though.