Unblocking tapones and finding pleasant places


  • Ofelia Garcia The Graduate Center, CUNY




Tapón is the word that comes to mind when I think about this piece. The tapón of my bathtub in Cuba when I was a child that prevented the water from streaming out. The tapón of the traffic jams in Puerto Rico, leaving my mother-in-law´s house to go anywhere, as the traffic stopped flowing. And the tapón I feel today, in NYC, in the midst of a pandemic that has hit poor communities of color the hardest, and as a smooth transition to a new president has been slowed down by lies and innuendos of fraud.


I have written many academic articles, but never have I struggled with the tapón I have felt in writing this piece that urged me to take a “viaje a la semilla,” the title of a book by Alejo Carpentier, a Cuban author. Taking a trip ‘to the seed of it all’ is painful, and I have resisted lifting the tapón that has kept me from looking inward, linking my today with my past. I thank Sonia Nieto, a beacon and inspiration to all Latinas and all educators, for asking me to unclog memories of who I am, and how my who is related to the work in which I have engaged. In so doing, I recognize those who have been with me in the streams of my life as a woman, a student, a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a teacher, an academic.  As I have done so, I have realized more than ever that as Psalm 16 says: “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places,” and it has been my family, teachers, colleagues and students who have given me more than I deserve.


[Download the PDF to read more about Dr. Garcia's journey and wisdom]


For a complete list of Dr. Garcia's publications, visit www.ofeliagarcia.org.

Bartlett, L., & García, O. (2011). Additive schooling in subtractive times. Bilingual education and Dominican immigrant youth in the Heights. Vanderbilt University Press.

City University of New York-New York State Initiative on Emergent Bilinguals (Eds.). Translanguaging and transformative teaching for emergent bilingual students. Lessons from the CUNY-NYSIEB Project. Routledge.

España, C., & Herrera, L. (2020). En comunidad: Lessons for centering the voices and experiences of bilingual Latinx students. Heinemann.

Espinosa, C., & Ascenzi-Moreno, L. (2020). Rooted in strength: The power of multilingualism and translanguaging. Scholastic.

Flores, N., & Rosa, J. (2015). Undoing appropriateness: Raciolinguistic ideologies and language diversity in education. Harvard Education Review, 85(2), 149-171. https://doi.org/10.17763/0017-8055.85.2.149

García, O. (2009). Bilingual education in the 21st century: A global perspective. Wiley/Blackwell.

García, O., Johnson, S., & Seltzer, K. (2017). The Translanguaging classroom. Leveraging student bilingualism for learning. Caslon.

García, O., & Kleifgen, J. (2018). Educating Emergent Bilinguals: Policies, programs and practices for English Learners (2nd ed.). Teachers College Press.

García, O., & Kleifgen, J.A. (2019). Translanguaging and literacies. Reading Research Quarterly, 55(4), 553-571. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.286

García, O., & Kleyn, T. (2016). Translanguaging with multilingual students: Learning from classroom moments. Routledge.

García, O., & Wei, L. (2014). Translanguaging: Language, bilingualism and education. Palgrave Macmillan Pivot.

Otheguy, R., García, O., & Reid, W. (2015). Clarifying translanguaging and deconstructing named languages: A perspective from linguistics. Applied Linguistics Review, 6(3), 281-307.




How to Cite

Garcia, O. (2021). Unblocking tapones and finding pleasant places. Education Review, 28. https://doi.org/10.14507/er.v28.3243



Acquired Wisdom