When I was a kid, I was envious of people that spoke other languages. I wanted to understand and talk to them. I was particularly mad at my father. A Spanish immigrant, he married a French woman, my mom. Unfortunately, he did not teach me his language and we all spoke French at home.
So, here I was, with the most common hispanic surname – Garcia – not speaking a word of Spanish. I was so frustrated, that at the age of twenty I moved to Spain, decided not to return until I could speak the language fluently. It took me just a few months to speak with ease and even to start thinking and dreaming in Spanish. Finally, I was like all those bilingual people I so often looked at with envy before. But more than that, I discovered that feelings and ideas could be thought and expressed differently from what I had been taught so far. I consider this episode of my life as the moment I really became an adult.
An episode that also changed my approach to other languages and that changed the course of my existence. Indeed, after mastering Spanish, I learned Catalan, then, I studied Arabic for two years, and finally, I moved to the US to perfect my English. Every trip I make now, is an opportunity for me to learn a new language. Not that I become an expert, but at least I try to read about the grammar and to study a few basic words. Just enough so that I can ask simple things or introduce myself. There is no language I prefer. Each one sounds beautiful to me. Each one teaches me something new about life. Each one connects me to a different culture. Sometimes I wish I could speak them all and go everywhere around the world talking with everybody.
If I ever have kids one day, I want them to learn as many languages as possible. The better they understand others, the better they can contribute to a more tolerant and peaceful world.