A big part of my life is a fondness for languages. Fellow bloggers around the world employing Spanish and French phrases captivate me. I like to comment likewise, however I noticed lately how often I check and cross-check translations.
Entering high school I wanted to become a translator, work for humanity to promote world peace. With my family’s church upbringing, I had a decent grasp of Latin by then, so I methodically set out to conquer the Romance languages. I remember learning quickly with remarkable retention and I just knew everything would simply fall into place.
Come enrollment I elected advanced Spanish, French 101 and German 101 classes. All. At. Once. I thought it would be a cakewalk. My cake however turned to mush in the first quarter.
I put my formal education on hold and became fluent in toddler and preschooler instead. Over the years as we moved from neighborhood to neighborhood, region to region, I liked to try out what I remembered from school, but my Spanish and French were likely more entertaining than understandable – my neighbors quickly chose to begin most of our conversations in English.
Fast forward a few years, at a highway rest stop I struck up a conversation in Spanish with another traveler. Isn’t it funny how candor comes easily with a familiar stranger? I confessed being a little apprehensive about returning to the City after living in the country for several years. She responded, “Chica, simplemente ser uno mismo y todo estará bien!” (You’ll be fine, You just do you Boo-Boo).
And she was right.
I’ve forgotten far more about languages than I’ll ever learn again. I’m humbled to have accepted being multilingual slid down my priority list. Still, everywhere I go people clearly understand kindness, humility and respect.
I still believe communication is the cornerstone to peace. As is kindness and good manners. I also believe while it should not be mandated, people do themselves a disservice not learning the languages of at least their bordering countries – preferably when they are quite young. And I’ve experienced, as with much of life, if we don’t hone our skills, we get dull.
Today I can greet in about four languages, but without my backup devices I initiate conversation in English. I won’t be applying anywhere as a translator any time soon but I’ll never stop working toward world peace.
“… be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NLT)
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