Author Archives: holvera

Work with your mind

The informant, C, is an 18 raised in South Central Los Angeles, California. His parents are both Mexican and he considers himself Mexican as well. He is studying Astronautical Engineering.



C-“An old family saying is ‘trabaja con la mente y no la espalda’ (Work with your mind and not your back)”

When did you first hear this?

C-“My dad used to tell me when I was younger so that I would try hard in school”

What does it mean to you?

C-“It means that you know you really have to invest in your education so that one day you can be working with your mind rather than your back”

Have you heard it other times besides from your dad?

C-“yea, I’ve heard it many more times”

Do you use it?

C-“Yea I use it from time to time. I add my own twist to it. I don’t know it depends on the situation”

Could you give an example?

C-“If you’re talking to someone who doesn’t want to try hard in school versus someone who is struggling in school. One has the motivation to do well and the other doesn’t. You just have to adjust it”

Analysis-The Mexican culture is a hard working culture that many times focuses on getting the children to work to help support the family rather than earn an education. The father of the informant clearly grew up experiencing some of this mentality, which he does not want to pass on to his children. The proverb is a way to encourage getting an education especially at a young age.

Dont hit your elders

The informant, C, is an 18 raised in South Central Los Angeles, California. His parents are both Mexican and he considers himself Mexican as well. He is studying Astronautical Engineering.


C-“Ok so once long ago in a small town, like a rancho, there were these two kids who would always mess with their grandpa and like f***K with him essentially. And these two kids were one day playing after school and they decided to be funny to throw rocks at the grandpa who was sitting at the porch. And so these kids do end up throwing rocks, and they find it hilarious and they are laughing and as the grandpa angrily yells at them, they run away. But you know, they live in this desert so they are pretty much running to the horizon, and then this great earthquake occurs and the floor opens up and swallows the two kids so the gap that was once created by the earthquake swallows the kids and closes again. And so the moral of the story is that you know don’t hit your elders because the earth may open up and consume you. And punish you for hitting your elders. “

Where did you first hear this?

C-“So my mom told me this when I was younger, because I was a trouble maker and would sometimes hit her”

Have you heard this story other times from other people?

C-“I have heard different alterations of the story but it’s pretty much the same moral of don’t hit your elders”

Analysis- The story can be seen as a representation of how the informant’s culture behaves. It is a culture that respects its elders and that shows there will be consequences for bad behavior. By having the characters getting punished be children, the elders are able to teach the values of the culture early on. The story is also set on a place that is known to many people of the same Mexican background, a ranch and a desert. The earthquake, as stated by the informant, is also evidence that it is nature that will punish and not the elders, which gives the story greater validity


The informant, S, is 18 years old and from Miami, Florida, but he grew up in Cartagena, Colombia (Northern, Columbia). His mom is from Barranquilla, Columbia (Northern Columbia), while his dad is from Cartagena, Columbia. He considers himself a Latino Columbian and is majoring in Civil Engineering Building Science.


S-“The folklore that I was raised with was this specific word from the coastal area of Columbia. The word is Bacano. Pretty much this word has no I guess direct translation in English but I guess the closest is like saying awesome, cool or something like that. “

Is it only used in the coastal area?

S-“Um its predominately used in the coast but it’s also used not as much towards the center of the country but yes mainly the coast.”

Do you know how it originated?

S-“I have no idea, I just know that uh it originated in the coast and made its way into the center”

Can you give an example of when it would be used?

S-“For example like if you come up to me and you’re like ‘oh I got this really cool video game’ or if you got, I don’t know. It’s used in very different contexts. So whether you’re coming at me with really good news and I could be oh ok Bacano, or I could be like for example, my plans this weekend were bien Bacano. Like my weekend was bien bacano. It’s also used to like fill you sentences when you have nothing to say, for example like if you come up to me telling me how was your day, ok Bacano. Good. Or it could be like ok Bacano. Awesome. It’s just in very very different context”

Is there a specific group of people that use the word?

S-“No, it’s just everyone”

When did you first learn the word?

S-“Since day one people were saying bacano.”

Analysis- It is interesting that a word that is used by many people and is known by everyone is mainly used in the coastal area of the country. One can clearly see that the word has become part of the national dialect even though people are not completely sure where it originated from or what is fully means. It is used both as a word and as an expression, which is something that modern society has been doing more often even in the United States. Some possible origins include Italian word Baccan or the English word back of the hand

Las Fiestas de Noviembre

The informant, S, is 18 years old and from Miami, Florida, but he grew up in Cartagena, Colombia (Northern, Columbia). His mom is from Barranquilla, Columbia (Northern Columbia), while his dad is from Cartagena, Columbia. He considers himself a Latino Columbian and is majoring in Civil Engineering Building Science.


S-“So where I’m from in Cartagena, Columbia we have the whole month of November called Las fiestas de Noviembre (the November parties) where it consists of having different parades for different days of the week where all the main streets are closed and they are usually used for parades. There is traditional music. Kumbia, and ballenato is played. People go on the streets and they you know celebrate for las fiestas. Another big aspect of it is having this called bolcitas de agua (little water bags). What happens is everyone in the city usually has ammunition of little bags filled with water so wherever you are in the street you just have to be ready to like get hit with bags of water “

Like giant water balloon fight?

S-“Yea it’s this giant thing so like during the fiestas different neighborhoods get together and like fight each other with like the water bags or balloons if you want to call them. I remember like when I was little with my cousins we would get up on my balcony, and we would have tubs filled with little balloons and just like throw them at cars and people walking by. It’s cool because everyone knows and has the general consensus that it’s ok to do so. “

Do you know the history behind it or how it originated it?

S-“I do not”

So there is different parades at different periods?

S-“It’s just during the whole month. So like there is this big parade called el Bando and that day they just close the big streets and they throw maizena (corn starch) and water everywhere. Live music, a lot of fireworks. Do you know what a busca piez is?

Yea I think so

S-“It’s like the thing that you light up and throw it on the floor and it goes all over. Which is a bad thing because a lot of injuries happen. Like during this month there are people missing fingers and missing hands, but it’s a cool month.”

Analysis- The constant and long celebration would appear to many as waste of time and water, but to the people of the area it means much more. The events only happen in Cartagena, Columbia and the regions around it, for the festivals are meant to celebrate the independence of the area. The water throwing was not originally part of the idea of the festival but quickly merged with what people believe was the original plan. Today, however, as more outsiders move in, these things may be changing as they do not agree with everything that happens during the festival. Water throwing, for example, is banned from November 1-17 as well as fireworks from November 1-15.

For more information see: EL UNIVERSAL (2014, Oct. 30). Cartageneros Hablan de las Costumbres Novembrinas mas Irritantes. Retrieved from

Cursed Rock

The informant, T, is 19 years old. He was born and raised on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. His parents were also born and raised on Oahu. His grandparents on his mom’s side came from Japan and from his dad’s side were raised on Oahu. He is majoring as an Industrial and Systems Engineer. He considers himself American and is full Japanese.

T-“ Pele is the goddess of volcanoes so like currently the big island, which is the furthest right island in the Hawaii chain, is like active like a volcano erupting and it is said that Pele lives there so you can’t take lava rocks from the big island or its said that Pele will curse you or something”

Is it only from the big island? Can you take it from the other islands?

T-“Well you’re not supposed to take it from the others, but it is well known you’re not supposed to take it from the big island. That one I think everyone knows that”

Did you hear this since you were little?

T-“Yea since I was little”

Do you know if there are any laws behind it?

T-“I don’t think there is any laws but there’s like Hawaiian laws which like you can’t enforce them”

Do share this story?

T-“Yea. This is one of the ones that I mainly tell other people when we’re talking or having in depth conversations about my culture”

Analysis- While there are no official laws, the story of the curse could be a way of the natives to protect their land. By scaring tourists into believing in the curse, they can ensure that the land will not be disturbed and/or damaged. The fact that most, if not all, of the people know it and tell it can be seen as possible proof of this. Since the locals do not have the power to enforce this law, the curse story could have been made up. Overtime, however, it appears that the legend has been canonized and is becoming more known and accepted by the people to be true.