Let’s cut to the chase–everyone knows learning another language is important. Let’s talk a little more about why this is the case.

Language is not learned nor produced a vacuum. It’s a lifelong process. As linguist and author Colin Baker puts it, “Language is enacted in changing dramas; as the theatre and stage where we act changes, so does our use of language.”

During my own journey, I discovered that the most important part of learning a language is understanding the context in which I will use it and the why behind it. Contrary to popular belief, it is not all about memorizing every possible vocabulary word and verb tense, striving to be a ‘walking dictionary’ if you will. It’s about making the language work for you, to help you flourish and realize your own goals.

Instead of saying “I want to learn Spanish,” think, “I want to learn Spanish because…”

I’ll start with my own story. Learning Spanish was not something I decided to pursue simply because it was a common-core requirement. I had more of a personal motive to delve into the language. In elementary school I met my best friends (fourteen years and a few hundred miles apart later, nothing has changed.) Just like our friendship, the lasting imprint we’ve left on one another has never faded.

Here it is in a nutshell:

A Colombian family moves from Medellín to Miami shortly after their kids were born. A few years after that, they move to the Midwest for a job opportunity. After experiencing living as a minority in the Crossroads of America, they decided to return to Miami and never looked back.

That Colombian family was eager to go to a place where they were accepted. I couldn’t blame them. In our uncultured town, they were made to feel like outcasts. Those kids grew up to be my beloved friends, sisters, mentors, and everything good in the world. It hurt me to hear that they cried after being called names, singled out in careless alienation, perpetuated by the lack of education surrounding cultural competence. They felt voiceless and unseen.

Kids can be mean–sometimes deliberately, but most of the time because they don’t know any better. What happens as a result is the bullying victim’s inner child, wounded because they were made to feel like a misfit, carries on into their adult life. It’s a snowball effect that can only be mitigated by properly educating our kids to not only accept, but to foster a sense of desire to learn about others. The impact that my Colombian friends had on me: showing me that there was much more to this world than what I had seen in my small bubble. The impact I had on them: I treated them as human beings and didn’t exoticize them because they spoke a different language at home. To this day, they still talk about this elementary school experience like it was yesterday. They’ll say, you were the ONLY one who made us feel like we were normal. Something so minute in my eyes meant the world to them.

Am I some sort of hero? Not at all. I just didn’t let ignorance and judgments cloud my opinion of people whose culture differed from mine.

After my experience and fast-forwarding to figuring out what I wanted to do with my life, I knew one thing: no matter where life would lead me, I’d always make sure to embody the traits that led to making my forever friends: treat all with compassion.

My mission: to help do away with the notion of the “melting pot” that many Americans use to justify complete cultural assimilation, simplifying and watering down this beautifully diverse world we live in. At the end of the day, we all want connection, happiness, and success. Let’s not let fear of the other clash with the infinite possibilities that await us when we look through the lens of another. I found my why. What’s yours?



Welcome! Let’s cut to the chase–everyone knows learning another language is important. Let’s talk a little more about why this is the case. Language is

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