Want to make creations as awesome as this one?


By: Esmeralda Santiago

When I was Puerto Rican

  • Native Puerto Rican, born there in 1948 as the eldest of 11 children into a family that struggled with poverty Moved to the United States (Brooklyn, New York) in 1961 at the age of 13
  • What sort of difficulties do you think she encountered?
  • What would you struggle with if you were in her place?
  • She went to Harvard and currently lives in New York with her husband

Who is Esmeralda Santiago?

  • Autobiography that reads like a memoir a written factual account of somebody's life
  • Nonfiction
  • Published in 1993 Book begins by describing Santiago's life in Macún, Puerto Rico.
  • It then details the circumstances that led to her mother bringing her and her siblings to New York.
  • The book's second part describes Santiago's initial adjustment to life in America.
  • The memoir closes with Santiago's audition for New York’s Performing Arts High School.

The Book

About the Title: Author Talk

  • What is the setting?
  • What goes into the setting?
  • How does our author set the scene?
  • Are you already getting a feel for Negi’s 1950s Puerto Rico?
  • Her childhood home?
  • How does it compare to 1950s New York?

The Importance of Setting

We are beginning to get a picture of Negi’s home in 1950s Puerto Rico.Describe your childhood home (6 sentences or 10 bullet points MINIMUM) – submit when finished Be prepared to share

Setting the Scene: Your Home (Mini Memoir!)

  • What do we learn?
  • What do you think of the epigraph at the start?
  • What do you think you can expect from a story that begins this way?
  • Who does Santiago seem to be at this point in her life as depicted here? How does our author utilize imagery?
  • What is a guava?
  • Have you ever had one? How is it symbolic?
  • Why is she drawn to it?
  • Why doesn’t she buy it?

The Prologue: Let's Read Together!

  • A tropical US island territory
  • How would you describe it?
  • What do you know about it?

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

Also Puerto Rico

1950s Puerto Rico: Vacation destination

1950s Puerto Rico: Regular people, families, & regular life

The island's cultural and demographic landscapes were shaped by the displacement and assimilation of the native population, the forced migration of African slaves, and the colonization of other nearby islands.

Originally populated by the indigenous Taíno people, Puerto Rico was colonized by Spain following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493. It was contested by the French, Dutch, and British, but remained a Spanish possession for the next four centuries.

Puerto Rico is Spanish for “Rich Port”

Brief history of Puerto Rico

  • Spain's distant administrative control continued up to the end of the 19th century, producing a distinctive creole Hispanic culture and language that combined indigenous, African, and European elements.
  • In 1868, the people revolted against Spanish rule, declaring for the first time the idea of Puerto Ricans as a distinct people, with right to sovereignty.
  • This revolt was eventually put down by Spanish forces, but the movement continued. In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, the United States acquired Puerto Rico under the terms of the Treaty of Paris. Since then, Puerto Rico has remained an unincorporated territorial possession, making it the world's oldest colony. Puerto Ricans have been citizens of the United States since 1917, but Puerto Rico is not a state.

Revolt and Becoming a US Territory

  • Imperialism: a policy of extending a country's power and influence through diplomacy or military force 1500-1900s everybody was doing it (mostly Europeans) Australia, India, Africa, North America, South and Central America, Caribbean
  • Do you have an opinion on imperialism?
  • Should Puerto Rico be made a state?
  • Guided Reading Question: As Negi ages, what does she begin to think about the history of her home island and the effects of imperialism?

European and American Imperialism

1950s Puerto Rico: Nationalist Party

  • Who is Negi?
  • How old is she?
  • What does her nickname mean?
  • (p. 13) What else do we learn about her?
  • About her family?
  • What kind of place is Puerto Rico to her?
  • How do you know?
  • What happens in this chapter? What does jibara mean?

Chap.1 Jibara

  • Jibaro: (Spanish) a Puerto Rican small farmer, rural worker, or laborer especially of mountainous regions; may also refer to a person of the working class, a country dweller .
  • Why might our author have chosen this title for this chapter?
  • Why does Negi want to be jibara?
  • How else does it apply to this chapter and Negi’s family?
  • Were there other words you didn’t know the meaning of? Which ones?
  • Are there enough context clues to figure it out?

The meaning of Jibaro

Based on the memoir answer the following questions:

  • What fruit does the protagonist think about buying at the Shop & Save?
  • Why are they drawn to this fruit in particular?
  • True/False-
  • The protagonist buys the fruit at the end of the prologue.
  • What does the protagonist call her mother and father?
  • What is the protagonist’s nickname? Why?
  • What does it mean?
  • What kind of insects swarm and “attack” the protagonist? (0 Who says, “I wanted to be Jibara more than anything in the world…”?
  • Why does this character want to be Jibara? \
  • What is a jibaro
  • Extra Credit: Who is coming to steal the mother’s lap?