Embark on a captivating journey with Micah, a distinguished winner of the Bob & Edie Green Writing Scholarship! In his compelling essay, Micah unveils the transformative power of language immersion, illustrating how travel not only enhances language proficiency but also deepens cultural understanding. Through vibrant narratives from Spain, Micah shares poignant moments that transcend language barriers, fostering lasting connections and challenging preconceptions. Join us as we delve into Micah's profound exploration of language, culture, and personal growth—a narrative that promises to inspire and broaden perspectives.
Being able to communicate in other languages with people from different cultures is necessary in today’s world. By immersing ourselves in language and culture through travel, we can open our minds and become more proficient in the languages that we study. While we can study about languages and culture in the classroom, it is much more meaningful to experience culture firsthand and to use our language skills in real-life settings. It is travel that brings language and culture to life and opens up a world of possibilities.
Knowing another language has many benefits. Being able to communicate in another language helps you become a better communicator in your first language, and forces you to get ideas across in a comprehensible way, which can be beneficial in any future career. By speaking to another person in their own language, you will be able to make stronger connections with that person and get to know them on a more personal level. For example, when I was in Spain, I was able to make friends with kids my age by playing soccer on the beach, even with the little Spanish skills that I had at the time. It was the act of taking a risk that made the travel experience worthwhile, and taught me that it is ok to make mistakes in conversation and that you don’t always have to say things perfectly to be understood.
Learning a world language is not just about the language itself. A person’s language is about who they are. Language is ever-evolving and changes as a culture changes. Language incorporates what is important to a culture. For example, in Spain there is something called “sobremesa”, which means “upon the table”, and it is the discussion that happens after dinner. It has its own word, whereas in English there isn’t a word, showing that socializing and taking time to spend with friends and family is important to Spanish culture. I experienced this myself while in Spain. Whether it was walking from one place to another for tapas with my exchange student and their family or eating dinner with all their family and friends and taking part in “sobremesa,” just being together and talking was important. This experience is something that is not taught, but is something that is equally important in understanding culture, which then helps in understanding the language.
I have seen firsthand the importance of learning a world language and experiencing cultural immersion. After hosting a Spanish exchange student, I was later able to visit them in Spain, and continue a lasting friendship. This shows that even with differences in language, it is possible to understand and learn from each other, which is something that everyone should have the opportunity to do.
Traveling abroad is the best way to challenge one’s own way of thinking and understanding of the world. As Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” His quote clearly explains the basic importance of travel; travel challenges us to become better human beings by challenging our biases and way of thinking. Travel can push us out of our comfort zone and make us take a step back to reflect in order to understand our experiences.
Through my travels, which I have been fortunate enough to have experienced, I have seen how language isn’t a barrier, rather it is the necessary difference that maintains a culture. I have learned that travel is the key to compassion, as it forces those who are unaware of others' struggles to be conscious of the difficulties that non-native English speakers have in the U.S. I have also seen this firsthand in my school and community.
Go ahead and open your mind and your world. Have courage to step out of your comfort zone and use the languages that you are learning. The experiences that you have abroad will be that much richer and will help you connect on a deeper level with the people around you. I am looking forward to broadening my understanding of the Spanish language and culture through the language immersion trip and host family stay. These are irreplaceable experiences that I wish that everyone had the opportunity to experience in order to open their minds and their world.
Congratulations once again to Micah, a deserving recipient of the Bob & Edie Green Writing Scholarship! Micah's insightful reflections underscore the immense impact of language immersion, urging us all to embrace the enriching experiences that travel and cultural exploration offer. Ready to embark on your own language journey? Connect with Xperitas today and open the door to a world of transformative adventures, fostering language proficiency, cultural appreciation, and personal growth. The journey begins with you—discover the transformative power of language immersion with Xperita!