Being Latino doesn’t always mean you can speak Spanish fluently ― just ask BuzzFeed video producer Maya Murillo.
The fourth-generation Mexican-American knew Spanish as a teen but lost it over the years, and recently took on the challenge of relearning it in 60 days.
In a BuzzFeed video published Monday, Murillo first asked her parents why it wasn’t a priority for them to teach her the language when she was young.
Murillo’s mother, Kathy, explained why her own parents never really taught her Spanish.
“They moved us to a predominantly non-Latino area,” she said. ”[As] a middle-class Mexican-American family, they wanted their kids to have equal opportunity with all of the other kids that were in school. So they didn’t want us to have accents. They didn’t want us to carry what they thought might be excess baggage that they had growing up.”
Murillo’s father, Patrick, added that he felt discouraged to speak Spanish at home because he was made fun of when he tried.
Murillo then described her “emotional journey” toward learning Spanish with the help of a tutor and co-workers, giving honest commentary about her moments of self-doubt and her fear of looking dumb.
Murillo’s case is hardly unique among Latinos. The Pew Research Center analyzed Census Bureau data of the top 25 U.S. metro areas and found that the share of Latinos who speak Spanish declined from 78 percent in 2006 to 73 percent in 2015. Still, the number of Spanish speakers in the United States was at an all-time high as of 2015 thanks to the Latino population’s growth.
Watch the video above to hear Murillo’s moving account of trying to learn Spanish in 60 days.