My Language Story

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is krystacamea.png

Click here to view the My Language Story video

Before starting my language story, I need to explain how my name represents the blend of two cultures, especially coming from my parents who came into the United States as immigrants. Krysta Camea is my full name but people call me Camie.

At first, I wonder why she chose my name after a flower. While sharing her story, she mentioned the name represents the flowers she used to grow from her childhood home from the Philippines. Camie, the nickname, was developed because I was also named after the first car my parents bought when my dad and sister moved into New York City. It was a 1993 Toyota Camry and I was almost born inside it during a winter storm.

Birthday, Winter 1999
My parents immigrated from the Philippines to the United States. My mom first arrived in 1985 while my sister and my dad followed Spring 1993. This voice clip explains the picture above of their language origins based on the dialects they speak back in the Philippines.

”I remember always been scared in speaking…When I was a kid, my parents told me I had trouble talking or speaking. I wouldn’t make any sound and if I did, it was me making my own sounds, like if I was speaking my own imaginative language.”

Fall 1997, I was three years old entering Albert Einsteins School of Medicine under Montefiore Medical Center, a hospital my mom has been working since 1992. This started the journey of me taking Speech Therapy. It was soon realized the reason I had a delay in speaking because of the exposure of different dialects at home. This makes total sense since my mom and dad speak the main dialect of the Philippines which is Tagalog, while my mom would speak to my Lola (Grandma in Tagalog) in Ilocano.  Since taking Speech Therapy, I noticed I was more prominent in speaking English rather than Tagalog. This delayed me in learning the native tongue of my parents.

Growing up in the Bronx, especially in the two neighborhoods I grew up in, I knew my exposure in a language is like one big melting pot. From learning different slang from other classmates and also what I learned from home, I knew from the start that both worlds are going to overlap. Learning slang was not a bad thing to learn about but I know eventually there were consequences that could lead to me accidentally offending one of my peers by misusing the slang I learned.

Although I didn’t learn Tagalog at an early age, it’s still a bit of a struggle for me to learn it, especially since my parents never really focused it with me while growing up. I do pick up a lot of catch-phrases or common phrases my family will exchange and it became natural for me to speak it. To this day, I am still learning the language slowly but I know from experience working ELLs and others, we are all language learners. We all learn differently but eventually, we can succeed in doing that.