Accessibility Navigation:

Interview with David Cohn

Cohn, David
Valladares, Evelyn
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places
David Cohn talks about his friends and family and running with the bulls in Spain.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Evelyn Valladaresinterviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
EV (Evelyn Valladares): This is Evelyn Valladares interviewing David Cohn, in the afternoon of the thirteenth of February of 2004. David, good afternoon.
DC (Walter David Cohn): Good afternoon.
EV: How are you?
DC: Very well, thank you. And you?
EV: Very well, thank you. David, before anything I would like to thank you for your, uh, time to do this interview. I know that you are a very busy person, but we will only take from 15 to 20 minutes.
DC: Uh-huh.
EV: OK. Well, the first question that I have to ask you is, your full name?
DC: My full name is Walter-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -David Cohn.
DC: ( )
EV: OK. Don't you have a second last name?
DC: No.
EV: No? OK. Uh, your birthdate?
DC: I was born in August, the sixth of August of 1976.
EV: OK, and your age?
DC: 26.
EV: Uh-huh. Your country of origin?
DC: The United States.
EV: Uh-huh. Have you lived in other countries?
DC: No, never.
EV: OK. Only in the United States, right?
DC: Yes.
EV: OK. That means that you have been here in the United States ever since you were born.
DC: Yes.
EV: OK. What about in the Charlotte area? 26 years, too?
DC: Yes, I went to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -For, for, for two years-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -And I lived in Chapel Hill those two years-.
EV: \\ OK. \\
DC: \\ -But \\ only here in Charlotte.
EV: OK. And your native language, of course is-.
DC: English.
EV: -English. OK. Do you speak other languages?
DC: I try to speak Spanish-.
EV: Uh-huh, you speak it very well.
DC: -But, uh, only Spanish and English.
EV: OK. And your level of education?
DC: Four years of university.
EV: OK. What is your occupation?
DC: Hmm, I don't know how to say it in Spanish. I help people with their business, uh, with their, uh, benefits-.
DC: -In the company, uh, I also help people who make money without taxes-.
EV: Without taxes. OK. Uh-huh. It's like we call it in the United States, a business consultant, kind of?
DC: Kind of.
EV: Kind of. OK. Perfect. Well, David, now, the interview. Where are your parents from?
DC: My father is from, from Charlotte. He is from here. My mother is from Venezuela.
EV: Uh-huh, uh-huh. And your grandparents? Your mother's parents, for example?
DC: They are from Venezuela.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Uh, my, in, on my father's side, they are German.
EV: Oh, OK. Uh-huh, fine. And, do you know some traditions that are celebrated in Hispanic countries?
DC: Uh, I run with the bulls in the year 2001, during the summertime, uh, that's called the San Fermin's Festival-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -And it is done for the Saint of, of Saint Fermin.
EV: Uh-huh. In what city do they celebrate it? In what city of Spain?
DC: They celebrate it in Pamplona-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -Which is on the north of .
EV: Uh-huh. It's very hot in there, right?
DC: Uh, yes, but because it is at the moun-, at the mountains, uh, at night it gets a little bit cold-.
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
DC: \\ -But, yes, \\ it is very, uh, very hot during the day.
EV: Uh-huh. And, how is that, that Festival of Saint Fermin celebrated? What do they do? What do people do in there?
DC: Well, the part, my part, uh, my favorite part was when we ran with the bulls. Every mor-, morning, at eight they let the bulls run on the streets of Pamplona-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -Uh, when they reach the square, where they have the run at night-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -Uh, they do it everyday, they start on the seventh of July and they do, do it everyday for, uh, seven days-.
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
DC: \\ -Until \\ the 14th of July.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: And, but, after that, they have many, uh, I don't know how to say it, uh, for children, they have, uh, things in the Festival, for children and, uh, for, uh, they have a lot to do with churches in Pamplona-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -They have it for, all of the celebration is for the, uh-.
EV: The saint.
DC: -The saint of \\ Saint Fermin. \\
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\ And, to run in front of the bulls, right? Because people run in front of the \\ bulls-. \\
DC: \\ Yes. \\
EV: Do you have to have a minimum age? For example, do you have to be 18 years and up, or-?
DC: I suppose that yes, uh, I have also heard that. Um, um, they don't like that women run with the bulls, either-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -But I saw women, I saw young people-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -And I also saw policemen arriving and asking children to leave.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: It's, you know, everything in is very informal-.
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
DC: \\ -So \\ if they see them, uh, they chase them out. If they don't see them, everything is cool. \\ [Laughs] \\
EV: \\ Uh-huh, \\ yes. And, for how long? You told me that it lasted seven days, right, the festival?
DC: Uh-huh.
EV: And after that, what do they do? What do people do? Do they come back to work or what do they do?
DC: Well, I think that the Festival of Saint Fermin got famous when Ernest Hemingway wrote a book called Death in the Afternoon.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -He talks about, and also The Sun Also Rises and he talks about the run, uh-.
EV: About the bulls.
DC: -About the bulls in the streets of Pamplona.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: After he wrote that book, uh, the run became very, uh, famous.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: People come from everywhere in the world, the world to run with the bulls.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Uh, with that being said, what was the question again?
EV: Oh. What do, what would people do after it ends, \\ the Festival? \\
DC: \\ OK. \\ Well, Ernest Hemingway after running with the bulls, because it's, it's a party that lasts 24 hours for seven days-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -I would like to go to San Sebastian, which is a beach at the north-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -Of Pamplona so that I can relax-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -But I suppose that the majority of people, uhm, come back to work.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: We went to San Sebastian to say that we went. What, uh Ernest Hemingway did-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -Uh, and I have heard that many tourists do it also-.
EV: -Uh-huh.
DC: -But I imagine that local people come back to work, as usual.
EV: Of course, of course. And, aren't you going this year?
DC: No, this year I will not go.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: My wife does not let me.\\ [Laughs] \\
EV: \\ Of course \\ and besides, you are going to have a baby, right?
DC: Yes, \\ yes. \\
EV: \\ Oh, \\ of course. You already have other types of, other types of commitments.
DC: Of course.
EV: Uh-huh. Well, David, you tell me that your mother is from, uh, from Venezuela. Uh, do you celebrate Christmas here on the twenty fourth or on the twenty fifth and what do you do that day? What do you eat? Do you eat Venezuelan food or do you eat-.
EV: -American food?
DC: Here in the United States, we celebrate it on the twenty fifth.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Uh, the times that I have gone to Venezuela of course, it's, we celebrate it on the twenty fourth.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Uh, I have only gone to Venezuela two or three times for Christmas, uh, but here we do, my, my, my mother likes to make hallacas.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Uh-.
EV: Do you know how to make them?
DC: I help her cut the things to put inside the hallacas and I like them a lot. They are very delicious, uh, but I don't know how to make them.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: I suppose that I could do it.
EV: Uh-huh. And what, and what other kind of food do you know, Venezuelan food or Hispanic food?
DC: Well, I really love arepas (corn cakes), also, uh, and also empanadas (Small fried meat pies).
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: There is nothing like an arepa with reina pepiada (shredded beef)-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Oh, \\ my God. \\
EV: \\ Uh-huh, \\ yes.
DC: I would die for, uh, that type of food.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: And my friends, when they come to my house-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -Sometimes I think they come to my house just to eat arepas.
EV: \\ [Laughs] \\
DC: \\ [Laughs] \\
EV: Oh, but that's not right. Right? Only to eat? No. They also have to \\ bring something. \\
DC: \\ [Laughs] \\
EV: They \\ have to-. \\
DC: \\ Yes. \\
EV: -Take drinks \\ or-. \\
DC: \\ Yes. \\ Of course, of course, of course.
EV: Yes.
DC: Uh.
EV: Well, David, you tell me that you have been to and to Venezuela. What did you like the most, for example, from Venezuela when you went there?
DC: Well, uh, I like the peacefulness. I like that everything is done when is done.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Time goes slower. Uh-.
EV: There is more informality, \\ right? \\
DC: \\ Yes, \\ yes.
EV: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
DC: Uh, I like people from Venezuela.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: I like people from all Hispanic countries that I got to know, , and also Mexico. I have been there-.
EV: Oh, you have also been to Mexico?
DC: -For my honeymoon, \\ I mean. \\
EV: \\ OK. \\
DC: It's, it's, it's Mexico but it is not Mexico, Mexico \\ but-. \\
EV: \\ Yes. \\
DC: -We had lots of fun.
EV: OK. And what didn't you like? What didn't you like of the Hispanic countries where you have been?
DC: Oh, I don't like to see so many poor people.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Uh, I don't know how to say it in Spanish but, uh, uh, when you see those, those things, poor people, you think that there are more important things in this life than your work, uh, partying, uh, there are, there are people in the country, in the world well, in this country who cannot eat, and, and, everytime I see that, I always want to give something, I want to take off my jacket and give, \\ I don't know. It's, uh-. \\
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
DC: -Uh, so-.
EV: It's your nature to be like \\ that-. \\
DC: \\ Yes. \\
EV: -A nice person, uh-huh. And, in our countries, unfortunately there is a lot of poverty and I think that it will be very difficult to eliminate that problem.
DC: Yes, yes.
EV: Well, David, if you had the opportunity to live in a Hispanic country, would you do it?
DC: Oh, well, uh, I was born here in the United States. This is where my family is. Uh, the United States has been good to me, it's my country, I, I, I love the United States. If the Un-, if the United States did not exist-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Uh, I was born here in the United States, but my heart is in Venezuela.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: I love Venezuela, I would like to live in Venezuela. Now the situation in Venezuela is very bad, uh, with the way the situation is, I would not like to live there but, uh, Venezuela, the way it used to be when I was a child and when I went to high school. That's the Venezuela I remember and that's the Venezuela I like to think of-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -Uh, because Venezuela is very beautiful. It's a very beautiful country and people are so, so nice, but I would also live in , I think is a country, a country, uh, very beautiful, good people.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Uh, I also like their culture a lot.
EV: Uh-huh. And David, here in Charlotte or in the United States, do you have friends or acquaintances of Hispanic origin?
DC: Uh, I have relatives, uh, I have cousins-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -Who live here. They have friends, uh, when they go out from time to time, I go out with them.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Uh-.
EV: Do you like going out with them?
DC: Yes.
EV: Do you have fun?
DC: Yes. It's, it's, I have fun, a lot, it's, uh, the way they think is different from the way people from here think-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -Here. I, I, I could not live in another country because, uh, I like sports such as American football and basketball-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -And baseball and that's part of the culture from here.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Uh, in, in other countries that I have visited they have baseball and all that but it is not, people don't live for sports.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Uh, it's a little bit different. So when I am with my friends from here, we talk a lot about sports. When I am with them, they like to talk about politics, uh, uh, about things, uh, it is different. I like both sides.
EV: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. And, for example, have you been to a Latin American festival here in Charlotte?
DC: I have never been to, I, well, uh, I, I went many years ago. I don't, I don't remember the, uh, the festival quite well, but-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -Uh, I would go, er, I don't, I don't know.
EV: Uh-huh. Don't you know when they do it?
DC: Yes. Sometimes my mother tells me-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -About the festival, but I \\ have never gone. \\
EV: \\ Uh-huh, uh-huh. \\ David, uh, what other language would you like to learn?
DC: French would be good.
EV: Why? Why would you learn it?
DC: Uh, because my wife speaks French a little bit and I would like to speak French with her.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: I would like for her to learn Spanish so that she can speak \\ Spanish with me. \\
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\ Are you teaching her?
DC: Um, yes, a little bit. With my family, when they come here, uh, from Venezuela they don't speak English. Like, like we speak Spanish.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Because we speak Spanish a lot, then she, she learns from, from listening other people talking.
EV: Uh-huh. David, one last question, how do you think it would be the ideal way to learn a foreign language? If you, for example, had to \\ learn? \\
DC: \\ Yes. \\ Uh, I, I would go, if I could, I had, uh, money was not a-
EV: Problem.
DC: -I would go to a country, uh, I would get totally involved, uh, a totally, in a Hispanic culture.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: Uh, it could be , Venezuela, uh, Mexico, any country but, where, uh, and I wouldn't go with a friend. I would go with a family-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -Uh, who cannot speak English-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -Where I would have to tea-, tea-, uh, teach, uh, learn-.
EV: Uh-huh.
DC: -Spanish.
EV: Uh-huh. Would that be the best way for you?
DC: I think so.
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\ Uh-huh.
DC: \\ Or, \\ uh, or, I would say so.
EV: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Well, David, time is over. I want to thank you for your collaboration and I wish you the best of luck with your family-.
DC: Oh, thanks.
EV: -And with your job.
DC: Thanks.
EV: So long, David.
DC: OK. Good bye.