Week Six Reflection

Week Six Reflection-Aira by Richard Rodriguez

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Week Six Reflection-Aira by Richard Rodriguez

Born in San Francisco, Richard Rodriguez is an American writer that became famous after writing Hunger of Memory (1982), where he narrates his journey to intellectual development. In Aira, Rodriguez shares his experiences of when he first stepped into a classroom at a catholic nun school. He talks about his transition through emotions of insecurity, self-doubt, and fear as he transitioned from the lonely home environment he was used to into the public world. From the first time Rodriguez stepped into a classroom, he learned that his culture would be a huge determinant of his experiences. On his first day at school, his teacher pronounced his name wrong when introducing him to the rest of the class. It was the first time that he had interacted with other children from diverse cultures. Although the nun was friendly, she said her name rather slowly and it sounded odd to him because he was used to being around Hispanics that pronounced his name the way it should (Rodriguez, 1983). In his experience, his first language made him be viewed as a minority. All his classmates at the school were white and were sons and daughters of business executives and lawyers. The learning experience for such children was different and not as hard as it was for Rodriguez.

Rodriguez got his education from various institutions. He first began studying at a school in Sacramento in California. By this time, he could only speak 50 English words. Elementary school was the most difficult point of his education because he had benefited from affirmative action policy, which made it possible for him to attend a Roman Catholic School in their neighbourhood. The school was largely dominated by white children and not many children looked like him. He was uneasy and shy as it was his first time being away from his family. Although he could barely speak English when he was beginning his studies, he finalized his academic efforts as a Fulbright scholar of renaissance literature with degrees from Columbia University and Stanford University. After benefiting from affirmative action, he was offered a teaching job at the Prestigious Yale University, but he turned it down. His experiences and education had taught him that taking the job would be an unsolicited advantage given by affirmative action. Perched on the edge of his brilliant career in academia, he said the preference would be unfair to other people.

What inspired Rodriguez to be the man he is today is his experiences as a Hispanic immigrant in the United States. His decision to be an author and essayist was ignited by affirmative action. He notes that the point in his life when affirmative action meant something to him was when he was still young and his family was struggling as a middle-class family. However, soon, his experiences at school changed him. He stopped seeing himself as a minority and started seeing himself as a being part of the majority culture. This is the moment his life took a turn for the better. He became empowered to the point that he turned down a job offer at a prestigious institution. The moment he began recognizing that English was his language, he started his journey into no longer feeling separated by language and culture. Rodriguez has an interesting view of American society. He believes that the necessity for educating poor children is to teach children how to speak the public language and not languages like English or Spanish. Rodriguez firmly holds that many children do not understand that they have the necessity and right to use language publicly.


Rodriguez, R. (1983). Hunger of memory: The education of Richard Rodriguez: An autobiography. Bantam.

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