It’s a Small World

Tyler - Oceanside, California
Entered on December 16, 2009
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How many of us who live here in sunny California have visited Disneyland and gone on the Small World ride? My family and I take a vacation once a year to Anaheim, California and go to Disneyland at least once or twice during that week we’re away from home. I can still remember being around eight years old and being amazed at all the wonderful scenes from around the world and all the different sounds of foreign languages and the continuous chanting of “It’s a small world after all!” while floating along in that Disney masterpiece.

I believe that it is a small world. Because of that Disney ride, because of all those different tongues I heard in those tunnels as I child, I have been fascinated with other languages and cultures. I have taught myself Italian and a small amount of Russian and learned German, French, and Spanish in school because of that desire to understand others and learn from them. From German with its strong and sometimes rough sound to the rhythmic, singing words of Italian, each language has its own special qualities and ways of thought as it rolls off your tongue. It’s like taking bites of food from around the world. When I went to Europe this summer I couldn’t help but smile every time someone walked by and said “Guten Tag!” or “Buongiorno!” It was like riding in that tunnel as a child once more and while in Europe I truly understood the meaning of that phrase I heard in those tunnels as a small child. It’s a small world so why not be nice and open minded? Europeans have an advantage by being so close in proximity with other cultures and countries and are therefore more open minded and accepting of other people.

Americans? Not so much. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard someone yell, “Speak American!” at a Hispanic while wearing a baseball cap reading “These Colors Don’t Run” on their head and a Big Gulp in their hand. From my generation and younger I have seen a rise in open mindedness and that makes me smile. Most people my age can speak at least Spanish as well as English and with that they can ride in these tunnels of a small world and smile with friends around the world just like the animated dolls in Disney’s genius ride.

By being able to speak to so many different people from around the world you have the door open to learn from other cultures and enjoy the company of so many people. Those foreign sounds open unseen doorways for understanding and joy. Being able to speak to people of foreign countries in their native tongue is a sign of friendship, a way of saying “I want to be your friend; I’m making an effort to be courteous!” Most Europeans speak English, but when you speak to them in their language you can see their eyes light up almost immediately. They enjoy that you make the effort to speak to their language, even if you can’t do it perfectly and you instantly gain a friend! This I believe is a small world and learning different languages is the key to bringing peace to the world.