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College and Career Pathways, K-12 Education

The Importance of Heritage, Language, and Family

Samantha Avina, intern at The Skillman Foundation
Samantha Avina

For me, growing up in Detroit has always been pretty cool. I was born here and have gone to school in the city my whole life. Throughout this experience, one of the most important parts of growing up has been my Hispanic heritage and being bilingual.

At first, learning Spanish and English was difficult for me. The first school I went to, Academy of the Americas Elementary-Middle School, was bilingual and we learned a lot of new words in both languages every day. As I grew up, knowing two languages helped me communicate with my family and friends. Though it was hard at first, having this skill has changed my life because I can talk to people who need help translating.

I now attend Detroit Cristo Rey High School, which is just down the street from Academy of the Americas. I am a high school student with many ambitions and going to school in Detroit, along with growing up in a bilingual community, has offered me a different viewpoint in life. My experience attending Detroit Public Schools and now Detroit Cristo Rey have given me one of the best educational experiences you could possibly get in the city while also incorporating my culture and heritage into my learning. I have always wanted to be successful and I am thankful I get to live in a wonderful city, full of many opportunities.

A photo of La Carreta Market
My family’s store, La Carreta Market, in Southwest Detroit.

Growing up in Detroit has also created many opportunities for my family. Before I was born, my godparents opened three Mexican stores called La Carreta Market in Southwest Detroit.  The stores were important to the community and two of the locations are still opened to this day.

Like school, helping in my family’s stores have been an important experience in my life. When you are there, you see and meet people of all different ethnicities and backgrounds. This is important to me because I see how people have different viewpoints. One year, my mother opened a bakery and it was the best year of my life. It was fun seeing different recipes being made and being passed down to the next generation of my family. To this day, many of the recipes remind me of the fun memories we had as children and help connect me to my family.

Growing up in a strong community like Southwest Detroit, people would always tell me to smile when you are out in the street because you never know who you are going to walk into. This is something I still remember today. Everyone goes through good to bad stuff in life but having opportunities and a strong connection to my family and culture have made a big impact on my experience growing up.

Comments (1)

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  • MARIA Avina

    Samantha is a beautiful person inside and out. She will definitely go far with all that she has Learned. She is always looking in what ways she can help people. She is good at that she sets her mind to do. She has a humble heart snd is always great full for everyone around her.

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