Thursday, March 6, 2014

Experiencing the Power of Language

It started as a simple search for an outlet. I just needed to plug my laptop in so I could charge it. 

"Excuse me," I asked the Mc Donald's employee who was diligently sweeping the floors nearby, "Do you know where I could find an outlet to plug my laptop in?" 
She looked startled. Then, hesitantly, she replied, " English..." 
"¿Hablas espaƱol?" I inquired. 
At first, she seemed startled. Then, there was a light that sparked in her eyes
I repeated my earlier question, this time in Spanish, and she immediately helped me find an outlet for my laptop. 

Fifteen minutes later, we were still talking about her family. She told me about her daughter, a lawyer, who lives in the United States, and another one who is studying to become a teacher by taking online classes at a university in Mexico. I learned about her grand kids who still reside in Mexico. She asked about me...what I did and where I studied. We were two complete strangers but in that moment, we were connected by a common bond. 

In that tiny slice of life today, I was reminded of the power of language. Language connects us to each other. Knowing more than one language isn't about becoming more marketable or about making us looking better on a resume, but about possessing the ability to connect with an entirely different group of people. 

This morning, I am thankful for language and the wonderful opportunities I have had to study the languages of other countries. I am thankful that today it allowed me to connect with a kind woman from Mexico and I hope that maybe, just maybe, I was able to be a bright spot in her day, as she was in mine.