(A continuation of Part I)
Every time someone tells me that they admire me for what I've done, that I am somewhat of an inspiration, I really am surprised. I am no one too special, I didn't overcome anything too difficult, I simply put everything I had into achieving what it is that I set out to do... become trilingual and in doing so, grow as a global citizen. This alone is enough to be counteracted with countless "good for you" but the truth is, it shouldn't be a foreign aspiration.
"In the words of Senator Paul Simon, the United States is a 'linguistically malnourished' country compared with many other nations. Despite the large number of individuals from other language and cultural backgrounds who live in various communities throughout the United States, relatively few Americans can boast proficiency in a language other than English. While ample opportunities exist in many other countries to develop proficiency in a second language, exposure to foreign languages in the United States is far from adequate."
I wonder who could argue that foreign language proficiency is actually appreciated in this country. In my International Communications class, we had the opportunity to meet a translator. The first thing he told us was not to take for granted how lucky we are that English is our first language. Unfortunately, that same privilege is what holds us back. "The geographic isolation of the United States and the growing importance of English in the world have contributed to giving Americans a false sense of security vis a vis their need for foreign language competence."
If I have learned one thing over this past year and a half, it is that, "The ability to speak other countries' languages with an awareness and understanding of their cultures is obviously crucial to effective international communication." I don't know if I ever shared this with you all, but within a few days of living in Chile I learned the proper statement to say after finishing a meal, it was not that I was llena or full, but rather satisfecha. "I am satisfied." Genius.
There is an eternal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives. " (Josephine Hart)
Words by Danielle E. Alvarez. Photos by Kate O.
*I took the plunge! Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Danielle052988