Sep 3, 2019

Our First Quinceañera

9/03/2019 — cori
This weekend we were invited to celebrate the Quinceañera of one of my student's daughters. It was such a beautiful, incredible event. We had no idea what to expect and we were pleasantly surprised with each new thing we discovered.

This is Anahi. She is the girl everyone is here to celebrate. She is beautiful.

The invitation said that Comida (dinner) began at 4pm and the Vals (waltz) at 7pm. My friend, who I had been texting and who was teaching me about all things quinceañera, told us to arrive at 4:30 since no one arrives on time. She said she knows I'm punctual and that that would bother me, but to trust her. She knows me so well. We listened and were glad we did. We were still among the first arrivers. 

One of the things that shocked me was how incredibly decorated everything was. It took place in the community room at the library. This is actually a huge banquet hall. This had the feel of a wedding reception. There was a serving line of food outside of the banquet room. Delicious food. Mexican food. Our favorite food. We're basically Mexican without actually speaking Spanish. But we're good and Spanglish though.

My friend made all the desserts except for the main cake. It took her an entire week. I am cheering for her to start her own company. She is awesome, talented, skilled, creative, and super nice. And it was all delicious!

We spent most of the evening looking blank-faced as Spanish was spoken in all around us. We got lots of context clues and had the basic idea (celebrating Anahi), but we were lost on the specifics. It made me all the more adamant to become fluent in Spanish sooner rather than later. 

Anahi's family is huge and incredibly loving and accepting. Her mom is one of 7 kids. They all live in the area and were all there. Her dad's side of the family drove in from New Mexico. It was family everywhere - and us. I saw at least 4 of my former students there. They introduced me to their families as their "maestra." I was so humbled and honored. There was so much love in that room. Even though I didn't know the language, I could feel the love.

In the above picture, Chloe and Bennett were drawn into a game. The announcer lady came over to our table and asked them (in English) how old they were. They both answered and she told them to come up. They didn't have a choice. All the teens were up there for a game in which they had to make a bridge with their arms with their partner across from them. Then one girl goes through and chooses one guy and he follows her under the bridge to the end of the tunnel and they make a bridge with their arms. The girl who got the guy stolen then has her turn to go under the tunnel and choose her own guy. Sometimes it was the girls choosing, sometimes the guys. And it was all set to fast-paced Tejano music. The atmosphere was so fun. The kids admitted to actually having a fun time, even though after 30 minutes of making a bridge, their arms were exhausted.

We were so thankful to be included in this incredibly special time for this family. I'm so thankful my student trusted me enough to share this beautiful cultural tradition with me and my family. How special Anahi must have felt being adored by all her extended family. Both of her parents (all of her family, actually) are phenomenal singers and each wrote and sang a song to her. It was all so touching. I just loved getting to meet so many new people and be instantly enveloped in their kindness and acceptance.

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