Abigail Mendoza

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Students Speak: BMS Senior Abigail Mendoza on Being First-Generation Filipino-American

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This week, we continue to share select speeches written by seniors from local private schools. The following speech is re-printed with permission from its author, Abigail Mendoza, a senior at Bryn Mawr who is excited to become a proud Terp at the University of Maryland, College Park this fall where she plans to major in Computer Engineering. Abbey, the only Bryn Mawr senior of Filipino descent, writes about what it’s like to be a first generation Filipino-American citizen. – EH 

Abbey MendozaMy name is Abigail Mendoza. My first name is Hebrew, my last name is Hispanic, yet I am a first generation Filipino-American. Nineteen years ago, my parents moved to the U.S. to provide better lives for their future family. Although I have only visited my homeland as a baby, my parents and relatives that live in America have exposed me to Filipino culture throughout my lifetime. However, because I grew up here, there are many aspects of the Filipino culture that are just not part of my lifestyle and probably never will be.

For one thing, I can’t speak the main language, Tagalog, to save my life. I know some expressions and I can understand it in conversation, but I cannot speak it fluently. Learning Spanish at school has helped me a lot with Tagalog, since many of the words have similar meanings. And as much as I want to be fluent in the language, it’s nice to know that some Filipinos think I don’t understand what they’re saying, when I actually do. Over the years, being able to at least understand Tagalog has proven to be my secret weapon.

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