Since December 2019, airports have been a familiar scene for me. My career has caused me to travel more in the last six months than I have in my entire life, though I’m not complaining! Ironically, it seems my trips have collided with a time when many people’s travels are on the decline. What’s now been dubbed as a pandemic scare has left travelers frightened and frantic, and I understand why.
I’ve listened to varying perspectives and in-depth dialogue, concluding that it’s important that I take precautions as needed – and though I sense the growing fears as I journey through numerous gates, my most recent experience left me elated for a completely different reason. Language.
It’s hard for me not to notice that while discussing a certain virus that there’s been an outcry against people of Asian descent. It was a reminder to me of how racism can rear its ugly head and how cultural and linguistic differences often seem to cause impenetrable barriers, especially when people feel afraid. But oh how wonderful it is to be able to connect to one another because of our common bond of humanity. On my last flight home, I did.
I met a lady on the plane whose name escapes me. What I do remember is that she had a little girl with her. Beautiful and bronze, they looked like mirror images of one another. Onyx tresses fell on their shoulders, and their loving bond made me instantly remember my own children.
I knew from her accent she was Latina, and at times, it seemed she may not have understood everything the stewardess said; but, as a Spanish Language Learner, I was happy to help if I could. Reluctant though. Primarily because I consider myself a beginner, not bilingual. I had many questions with small talk on my mind, but doubted my ability to carry on a lenghthy conversation. So I thought I’d keep my little basic Spanish to myself. Until she asked me the time.
What ensued was a wonderful exchange about our children, where we lived, our ages and motherhood. We laughed and wished each other well in a moment that felt surreal. Why? Because like most language learners, I started with a book. I practiced translating sentences in school. I went through simulated conversations so I could get a good grade, and lost much vocabulary in between, but my 2020 goal was to learn significantly more.
This conversation – wasn’t for a grade. My current commitment to independent practice with apps and friends and daily listening of Spanish radio was working. Working enough for me to have a meaningful conversation – and to connect to someone irrespective of what would have otherwise been a language barrier. My biggest takeaways? We were both women. Similarly aged. Loving moms. Ready to go home and be with family. Wishing each other the best – regardless of our origin or ethnicity. Isn’t that what matters most?
I hope with all sincerity that the virus that has grasped the attention of the world will be remedied sooner than later. I extend my sincerest condolences to anyone and everyone whose lives have been directly or indirectly impacted. With that in mind, I also hope that we remember to treat others with kindness, remembering that how we interact should never be based on where we believe people are from, but on who we are – human. May our consideration of others reflect the manner in which we would like to be treated.
#buildbridgesnotbarriers #languagelover #inHisimage #redandyellowblackandwhite #allareprecious #stilldreamcatching #joinmeonthejourney #pursueyourpassion #betheone