My philosophy

 

 

 

In our day to day life, whether we are aware of it or not, we look at other cultures and languages through a peephole, our view impeded by the web of stereotypes and incomplete images of what “other” people are like, and what they might or might not feel and think about “us”.

Learning another language is the first step toward opening that door and entering the world community, to live it in first person, dissipate all pre-conceived notions and, finally, belong. Why stay out when we belong together?

Before I came to America from Italy, all I had heard about this country was that it had cowboys and skyscrapers, and that Americans never ate anything fresh, only out of cans! Now you tell me if that isn’t the perfect example of a stereotype.

As I learned English, I got more and more interested in the people who spoke it. I ended up meeting a lot of new people, who I could never have gotten to know if I hadn’t been able to speak their language. I felt I was blessed. People that used to look at me with a puzzled look were now interested in talking to me, because I had made the effort of learning a little bit of their language- I was willing to step into their comfort zone, instead of obliging them to jump into mine.

The biggest blessing for me was that of meeting my American husband and, as a consequence, of ending up in this country, which to me is the most amazing place because of the coexistence of all these wonderfully diverse people from all over the world.

I don’t live among cowboys or in a skyscraper, I am simply “home”.  From “home” I can now have a new appreciation of Italy, my native country, and I feel so grateful to belong there too.

Because I speak Spanish, I can talk to my Spanish speaking friends in their own language, and I “get” what they mean, not only on the surface, but at a much deeper and emotional level.

Foreign language learning has given me a sense of belonging to a bigger and bigger family, and a feeling of acceptance .

I know that a lot of you kids know what I am talking about, especially those of you who happened to talk to an Italian, French or Spanish speaking person, and who came back to me with a big grin on your face and a new twinkle in your eye, as you screamed: “Mrs. Johnson, I was actually speaking HIS language!”.

Remember how it felt? Any memory of that hair raised in the back of your neck?

Well, that’s the reason for opening your minds and hearts, so stop looking through the peephole,  open that door and come on in!.

 

Love and peace. Signora/seńora Johnson.