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Do You Dance in My Language? Historias in Pasco

Posted on Tuesday, September 13th, 2011.

On August 21st, StoryCorps kicked-off it’s two-week Historias Mobile Tour stop in Pasco, WA. Historias is an initiative to record, preserve, and share the stories of Latinos across the US and has become one of the largest collections of Latino voices in the country. This was our second tour stop in Tri-Cities, following three weeks of recordings with Northwest Public Radio. For our two week Historias set of interviews, we partnered with Radio La Campesina 96.3 FM (this is the first time we partner with a Spanish Language radio station during our MobileTour) and the Pasco Public Library continued to be our site host.

StoryCorps and Radio Campesina Community Celebration outside the Pasco Library

Felipe Tapia and his wife, Cody Mains-Tapia, came during Opening Week to share the story of how they met. Felipe was born in Mexico City, and though he had fond memories that brought a smile to his face, he talked about having a very difficult childhood, surrounded by violence, and learning to fight and defend himself at an early age.

Yearning for a change in his life, he looked towards a new horizon and came to the U.S to join his mother. During his interview, Felipe talked about how, soon after coming here, he discovered that it was not quite the “paradise” his mother would speak of. He had to work in the fields and that, along with the language barrier made for a challenging transition. He needed an escape from his newfound struggles, and found it in dancing. As it happened, it was during one of these outings that Felipe’s life took a turn, and her name was Cody.

He described that first meeting in Spanish: “Estaba bailando y te vi a ti, y vi que no estabas bailando. Estaba un poquito animado, gozando de la noche, y ya ten&#237a dos cervezas para vencer la timidez, y me avent&#233. Dije: ‘Hey vamos a bailar.’ Us&#233 mi “Ingles sin barreras” porque pens&#233 que no hablabas espa&#241ol.”

(“I was dancing and I saw you, and saw you were not dancing. I was a little animated, enjoying the night, and had two beers to overcome the shyness, and I went for it. I said ‘hey let’s dance,’ I use my “Ingles sin barreras” because I thought you didn’t speak Spanish.”)

Felipe and his wife, Cody.

When asked if he thought he had a chance, he told his wife about his first impression of her: “Te ve&#237as toda g&#252erita y fresita.” (“You looked all blond and like a spoiled little rich girl”). On that first meeting, he saw Cody as someone very different from him. What Felipe did not know was that in Sunnyside, WA, where she grew up, Cody was surrounded by Mexican culture and learned Spanish though raised in an English-speaking household. Their differences did not stop them from making a life together. During her recording Cody declared, about her life and husband: “¡Que todo el mundo sepa que Felipe Tapia es muy buen hombre, muy trabajador, y yo nunca imagin&#233 que mi vida terminara as&#237 de chida!” (“Let the world know that Felipe Tapia is a real good man, very hard working, and I never imagined my life would turn out this amazing!”)

There is no need for an escape; reality is too good here in Pasco, WA. Life may not be perfect but for Felipe, it no longer is a struggle.

Though our MobileBooth has left the Tri-Cities for it’s next stop in the Northwest, Radio Campesina will be airing stories like this, so stay tuned in the Tri-Cities to hear more stories from our Historias initiative.

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