Please say a little bit about yourself and what you do for a living.
My name is Giovanni, I am from Peru. I am a PhD student here in Pittsburgh in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures. I am also a Spanish teacher.
How important in your identity is being Latino?
That’s a good question. Because it is something that has become more important here in the United States. It’s not as important in Peru, because in Peru I am Peruvian and I am from Lima, so that is my identity. It’s something that has more meaning here, because at least in my case I realize that I have more in common with Latino people. And because of these interactions, I think I have developed a new way of identifying myself. So, for example, when I make a joke, sometimes I need to talk about something that I have in common with the person, and I cannot find that in common with American people easily. So it’s easier with Latino people. When I want to talk about something, about political stuff or soccer or whatever else, I find that I have more in common with Latinos. So it’s something that has become more important here in Pittsburgh than in Peru.
Is there something that you particularly value of your nationality, or of being Latino?
Sure. Well, being Peruvian helps me to sort of build my identity here, because I am not American. It’s a different issue being Peruvian in Peru and being Peruvian in a different country, in this case the United States. You find out that your own traditions and your own culture are more valuable here. Suddenly, you realize how significant they are for you and how strong is your connection with them. That's why I miss religious festivals or typical dances, despite the fact that I didn't pay attention to most of them when I was living in Peru. Also, how we socialize is different. We are closer, we kiss each other. I don’t know what the right word is—maybe cariñoso. That is something that’s valuable for me and it is not that common for Americans, I think.
Have you ever been treated differently because of being Latino?
Maybe. I don’t know if it’s because I am Latino, but in some cases I think because I do not speak English that well, people don’t have too much patience. But here in Pittsburgh, in most cases I haven’t felt that people have treated me in a bad way. I think that people have been very polite and respectful with me in general.