Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Photo of a ladybug I made for my vovo
Photo of a ladybug I made for my vovo

       My grandparents and mother immigrated to the U.S. from Portugal in the early 1970s. When they arrived they did not know any English, so they had to learn from the conversations they overheard. My grandmother, who I call Vovo, first worked as a cleaner for dorm rooms at BU, and my grandfather’s first job was in a factory. Vovo picked up basic English at the college from hearing the students talk. Even though my Vovo was in America, she believed that it was important to keep her culture and pass it onto her children and her grandchildren.         My Vovo felt that it was essential for me to know some words in Portuguese. So, she would always tell me the Portuguese translation for the words I said to her. She would also make sure I mastered the pronunciation of the words she taught me. One of the first words Vovo taught me was “joaninha,” meaning ladybug. Growing up, she would call me her joaninha, and hearing this word sparked my desire to learn more about my cultural identity. Through the years, I’ve assembled a unique vocabulary of Portuguese terms which has allowed me to grow in my relationship with my Vovo and in my Portuguese identity. Vovo still calls me her joaninha and each time a see a ladybug I am reminded of the history and identity that was passed down to me. 

Place(s): Portugal

– CM

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant