Villa-who?We switched over to VoIP phones at work and recently set up my new voicemail. I never set up the old machine, or any voicemail ever, where I had to say my last name. I usually only say my first name on my personal line.

I found myself re-recording & listening to my name at least 10-15 times. I switched between the Spanish and English pronunciation of Villarreal. I was quick to give up any accents, written or verbal, on my name as I started learning English and acculturating to the United States. The less ethnic my name sounded, the more likely I was to be accepted. Now, years later, when I’m no longer ashamed to be different, and hold much pride in my Latin@ culture, I find myself wanting to embrace it more and more. Part of me wanted to leave the Spanish pronunciation and part of me knew recording the English version would be easier and more comfortable for everyone. I find myself in a similar situation in many moments throughout my days, straddling Latin@ and U.S. values, melding them, and making them my own. With that same spirit in mind, by the nth-teen time, I recorded my last name in Spanglish, blending two of my identities into something unique and personal: Villarreal (vil-uh-rrhe-al).



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