Interview with Sara Szwilski, November 12, 2009

Project: Hispanic Heritage in Kentucky Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

She introduces herself and talks about her time in Lexington, her family, and how she came to live in the United States from Peru. She talks about learning English and being from a bilingual household. She also talks about what it was like when she moved to Lexington. She talks about the classes that she took to learn English. Also, she talks about the different types of people that were in her class. She talks about how she got to know people when she moved here. She also talks about the people she met and the small Latino community that welcomed her in. She talks about trying to find a job as a teacher and teaching English out of her house prior to getting a job. She tells of the bureaucracy that made her go back to school in order to work as a teacher in the United States. She talks about the project that her husband worked on in Indonesia. She talks about what it was like to live in Indonesia and what it was like there with her husband and children. She talks about her experiences moving back to the United States, to Lexington, Kentucky, after her time in Indonesia. She talks about how her family was situated at this time and how she began working at Maxwell Elementary School. She talks about being a "flex teacher" at Maxwell, an immersion school. She talks about what she taught there and how. She also talks about the almost non-existent Hispanic community in Maxwell at the time she worked there and when that started to change. She talks about the programs and clubs that started through the university and later for the all the Hispanic community. She talks about the things done in Lexington to re-enforce the Hispanic culture, which were different from the gatherings of 1980-1990s when the gatherings were smaller and mainly private. She talks about the differences between the United States and other countries, specifically Latin American countries. She feels that Americans work too hard and don't enjoy life like the Hispanic community. She talks about how hard Hispanics work, doing things that others will not do. She does not like the way that today's youth does not understand hard work, including her children. She also discusses how the children in the Hispanic community do not learn to speak Spanish. She talks about the kids, trying to teach them, and trying to teach the parents how to help the child to learn and do their work. She discusses the importance of keeping the Spanish language while learning English. She talks about how different the culture here is from that of the Hispanic community when it comes to being welcoming and friendly. She feels that Americans are quite closed and keep to themselves, not always being open and saying hello. She talks about working at Maxwell and finding the right person who is passionate about the program. She talks about informal sessions to teach both Spanish-speaking and non-Spanish speaking parents how to help their children with school. She also talks about the lack of and need for more immersion programs. She talks about a time when she was ignored in church and the racism that still existed in 1980. She talks about the stereotyping that still occurs and the difficulties in starting the language immersion program in other schools. She talks about the differences in Lexington since she arrived. She also talks about what she would have done differently and what she would have done the same.

Interview Accession

2009oh246_hhk001

Interviewee Name

Sara Szwilski

Interviewer Name

Silvia Roig Martinez

Interview Date

2009-11-12

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Szwilski, Sara Interview by Silvia Roig Martinez. 12 Nov. 2009. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Szwilski, S. (2009, November 12). Interview by S. R. Martinez. Hispanic Heritage in Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Szwilski, Sara, interview by Silvia Roig Martinez. November 12, 2009, Hispanic Heritage in Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7nk9315h0x