My favorite word? “Chama,” a Venezuelan word that refers to a girl. It is a word unique to my home country; everyone there uses it in casual conversation (along with its corresponding word for boy, chamo). In fact, Venezuelans use the word so often that they are generally referred to as chamos/chamas throughout South America.
If I still lived in Venezuela, I would probably have a different favorite word; chama would simply be too common to be my favorite. And when I lived there, the word carried no personal value. It was just another Venezuelan expression that everyone used. However, it turned into a different story when I became something of a nomad, moving from country to country with my family, and no longer lived in Venezuela.
When I moved to Panama, I loved being called a chama by my new friends. It was somehow comforting and reassuring to have them recognize and identify me as a Venezuelan, especially since I myself wasn’t exactly sure I had spent enough time there in my life to be considered one. That’s when it became my favorite – it is a single word that conveys my identity and connects me to home.
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