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Wilhemina Brown Lane and Carolyn Lane Sorenson
Wilhemina Brown Lane and Carolyn Lane Sorenson are a mother and daughter who were both born in Panama and later immigrated to the United States; but beyond this their lives are quite different. Wilhemina, who was born in 1918 to parents of Jamaican origin, says that she is 100% Panamanian. Carolyn, who was born in 1940 and left for the U.S. as a young girl, describes herself as a “Panamerican.” Carolyn is now a retiree from a long career in the airlines, and her most recent trip to Panama was a very special homecoming for both her and her mother. For Carolyn, it was an opportunity to see all of the people she remembers from her childhood; and, for Wilhemina, it was a chance to return to her beloved Spanish language, which she speaks quite fluently, even at ninety-one years old. Although she is not as fluent in the language, Carolyn admires her mother’s bilingualism, and hopes that the world’s youth can learn the importance of learning and understanding other languages and cultures: “If you can’t understand people’s language,” she says, “you are cut off from them.”