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Senior Student of September: Silmegy Vega

By Simon Pierpont; Managing Editor
On September 22, 2016

Senior Student of September: Silmegy Vega

Simon Pierpont

Managing Editor

sp1025@plymouth.edu

Plymouth State University has an extremely diverse campus. Considering it is a small liberal arts school located in the foothills of the White Mountains, PSU houses students from all around the world with students from Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, Australia, and of course, North America. Among the student body there are thousands of unique students with incredible stories. Recently, I had the chance to sit down and talk with one of these students, Silmegy Vega, a senior Social Work Major from Manchester, New Hampshire. Vega is just wrapping up her time here at Plymouth State, but has made some waves during her career as a student. She has played a very active role in the campus community, along with the Plymouth community as a whole. 

Where were you born? What was it like growing up in your house as a child?

I was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. When I was a child growing up my parents spoke to my sister and myself mostly in Spanish at the house and then when I would go to school I would be taught in English, so from a very young age I was hearing both Spanish and English. 

Have you always lived in Manchester, New Hampshire?

Actually, when I was 8 years old I moved to Puerto Rico with my sister where my grandmother and aunt took care of us until my parents were able to sell their property and move with us. It was scary because I had to start school in a new place that was very culturally different from what I was used to back in New Hampshire. I had to wear a uniform at the new school and it took a little while for me to get used to my new surroundings. As I mentioned earlier, my parents spoke to my sister and myself mostly in Spanish but I still was unable to read or speak Spanish when I first started at the new school. 

Was it hard for you to pick up the second language?

I actually learned how to speak Spanish very quickly when we moved. I believe it was because of having grown up hearing Spanish all around me; then being completely submerged into the culture in Puerto Rico that I was able to pick up the second language so quickly. 

How long did you live in Puerto Rico? Was the transition back to Manchester Hard?

After getting settled and learning everything that the Puerto Rican culture had to offer for 7 years, I had to move back to NH due to Family issues. It was extremely hard for me to leave my Island after meeting so many people. I was leaving behind all of my friends, memories, and family. I loved the tropical weather there and I knew I was going to miss everything that I was so used to. Something new I experienced when moving back to NH, was discrimination. My father and I went to a high school in order to register me as a student. As I was leaving and talking to my father in Spanish (because he barely knew English) a female student who was sitting next to a male student said very loudly, "We're in America.” I heard it, and walked away. I will never forget that day. 

Being bilingual is something so many people wish to be, how has it helped you so far?

Being bilingual is a blessing that sometimes haunts me. It's easier for me to get a job, learn other languages, (talk about others without them knowing), and feel safe in other Spanish speaking countries because I am able to understand their language and culture. Plus people think it's cool. However, I constantly struggle with words. I have to translate words in my head before I say them or I second-guess myself every time I am going to say or write something. Also, I find myself accidentally using Spanish words when I'm having a conversation in English. On the other hand, when I'm at home its pretty cool to go back and forth in both languages, also known as Spanglish, because I have different ways to get my point across. Two of my favorite examples of how I take advantage of being bilingual at home are: when I’m talking about my sister and I want to say that she is stupid, I use the word "stupid" instead of "estupida" because any swear in Spanish sounds worse than saying it in English, so therefore, it's not as hurtful. Second, when I used to ask my parents permission to go out, they would always ask me who I was going out with to which I would respond, "A friend," instead of "amiga" or "amigo" because it was too specific and I didn't want them to know if it was going to be with a guy. Because I've been living here since 2010, for the most part I prefer and I feel more comfortable speaking in English. The main reason why I'm more confortable speaking in English, is because I’ve been at PSU for almost four years and I no longer have my Hispanic friends with me. However, I still listen to Spanish music like Reggaeton, bachata, merengue, & salsa. Also, I mostly only know how to cook Spanish food. 

What are your goals academically as you finish up your time here at PSU and what organizations are you a part of?

I am an independent senior majoring in Social Work with a minor in Spanish. I feel joy when helping others, especially people who come from other countries and struggle with culture and language differences. I am a Spanish tutor and I work as a Building Manager in the HUB. I am a member of the Nicaragua club, PSU Volunteers, the Social Work Club, and the Delta Zeta Sorority in which I currently hold an e-board position as Philanthropy chair. I am the only one in my entire family (not just my immediate family) to have gone to college, and now I am so close to graduation, which I am pretty proud of. I owe the fact that I even am in college to one of my friends who helped me fill out all of the necessary paperwork in order to get into college, without them I would not be able to be where I am today. 

 

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