I love language. Any language.I have a bucket list of languages I want to learn.
I mean, technically, I speak three languages, and I’m able to get by in a fourth. But I only grew up with one language in my household and I have to practice like crazy to maintain the ones I learned outside of it.
Honestly, I envy people who are raised bilingual. I am in awe of you.
You are so talented and you have such unique experiences to share with the world.
And it kills me to hear people mock you for an accent that makes you who you are, or say racist shitty things because you have the audacity to be intelligent enough to speak another language.
I am just another white American who grew up speaking English and nothing else. For a majority of my life, my words would be lost in translation if I spoke to someone who didn’t speak English.
I can’t speak on your behalf, and I don’t want to, really. I want to hear you speak for yourself, in all the languages that are a part of you.
But people are stupid and things get lost, so I will do my best to help you in anyway I can.
And until people start listening to you and respecting you, I will continue to be in awe.
I’m in such awe that I write this to show it.
This is for the people in my life.
For my Aunt Krysia, who has to put up with her father-in-law cracking shitty jokes about her culture because apparently the Polish are a joke.
This is for my best friend’s father, Hardeep, who speaks three languages and has been in the States longer than his wife, but has an accent much stronger than hers in a show of Punjabi pride. For a man who gets selected for “random” searches simply for the color of his skin.
And for her mother, Radhika, who speaks four languages and can yell in all of them as well as she can in her native language of Hindi.
This is for my classmates here at Augustana College.
For the international students who chose to leave home and come to a country completely different from theirs.
For the students currently fighting back against hate speech as bigots say things like “build the wall” and vote for a racist for president.
For the students celebrating their culture by sharing it with the campus.
This is for you. This is a tribute because I am in awe. I’m in awe of your bravery and your strength. I’m in awe of your talent and your personality. I’m so glad you are here, because without it, my life would not be the same. Thank you for enriching my worldview. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Thank you for fighting to be heard.
Thank you for existing.