This I Believe
I believe in the power of being bilingual. The world is large, and people speak the same languages, according to which country they live in; but then there are people like me, who were raised outside of the norm, who were raised with different cultures, and who can switch from one language to another, just as naturally as you might change the topic of a conversation. I did not always realize the power I had; in fact, I took it for granted.
Although I was born here, all my life I had been speaking French at home. In preschool, many of the kids in my class were just like me, in the fact that they too were bilingual. Since it was what I had always known, I assumed that everyone in the world must speak English at school, and their own “family language” with their parents. Life went on like this until one day, I guess I came home in total disbelief when I realized that there were, for reasons unclear to me, a “small amount” of kids who did not speak two different languages. How was this possible?
Now I know that my two languages give me a power no one can take away from me. I can relate to people in France because I speak their language, I talk in the same way, and I was raised with the culture. When French people talk to me, they have a hard time believing that I was raised here, how I speak so well, why I know so many cultural references.
I can also relate to anyone here who was raised in the same way, whether their language was Spanish, Hindi, German, or Arabic. We all know that when we answer the phone and start talking in another language, our parents are calling. We all know how when we’re together we like to talk about the people who are standing right beside us in a language they can’t understand. We all have stories on how when we were in our countries, a group of American tourists walked by, said something about us, and we threw words right back at them.
These are the fun moments, but in knowing another language, we also gain a better understanding of each other. No matter where we come from, we can still see how much we have in common. We can compare our own cultures with those around us, and realize that the only thing truly separating us is language.
Whether you know many languages, or are just struggling with one, it is amazing to see how truly similar we all are. Once the language barrier has been broken, we can truly learn about each other, our different traditions and lifestyles, and learn to accept one another as brothers.
This I believe.
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