I believe in something that has the power to express feelings and emotions, to heal your deepest wounds, and to reach out to others in a troubling time. I believe in language.
For most of my life, language had been the thing that allowed me to tell my mom what I needed, to share my problems with my best friend, or to yell at my brother for making fun of me. It seemed like language’s only purpose was to let me hear my own voice. It was the reason I hated English class and the reason for my time-outs. It wasn’t until I reached high school that I began to see how much more there was to language.
Spring break of my freshman year, I made the decision to go to Matamoros, one of the poorest cities in Mexico. I had recently fallen in love with the Spanish language and couldn’t wait to use it. My goal was to have just a few, short conversations with the Mexican people, in Spanish; I wasn’t prepared for the stories I would hear or the love I would receive from complete strangers.
Because of language, I was able to understand Susana’s story of how her son died at six months old; she told me of how her four-year-old daughter had an illness, but Susana couldn’t afford the medicine that would cure her. Because of language, I was able to hear Mario’s story of how he lost his job, how he had no money to take care of his family, and how he now had two families to support. Because of language, I was able to sing and speak with the precious, little children at the park in Matamoros. Because of language, I could listen to people’s stories and I could tell them mine.
Until then, I hadn’t realized the power of language. It allowed me to reach out to
people and lift them up with hope and love. It was language that revealed its power to me; I saw the huge part language played in my life. Without language, how could we live?
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