March 23rd, 2022
Recently, I had my field class in Brest, France, and it was extraordinary. I meet Bernard, our tour guide. He is a first-generation Breton; his parents moved to France, Brest, where he was born and where I met him. In the field class, I learned more about Brest. People there cultivate and fish, and that is how they feed their families. Everyone knows each other. It is a town that is very united. They are also very independent. It reminded me of the situation in Spain and Catalonia. At one point, they wanted to get their independence, and they do not identify themselves as French; they are Bretons. They even have their own flag, which I found pretty (down below is the image).
Bernard showed us some of the most popular sites in the town. One of them was a beautiful lighthouse. I will also leave some images down below. However, one of the most exciting things about this field class was meeting Bernard. Bernard is the first individual I’ve met who knows approximately eight languages, including Breton (his native language), French, Spanish, English, and Greek. Learning languages is the best thing you can do because it opens up a whole new world for you, Bernard says, adding, “If you have the opportunity to travel and learn a new language, do it because it allows you to connect with people on a deeper level.” He traveled a lot when he was younger, and on one of those trips, he met his wife, who is from Cuba.
After meeting with Bernard, I reflected on how learning a language changes people’s lives. I know how to speak Spanish since I am a first-generation Mexican American, and I feel very lucky that I am bilingual. I think that a large percentage of people who do not travel do not see the importance of being bilingual. People say that learning a new language might give us an edge in today’s globalized society, but why? Exposing ourselves to other individuals develops more positive views and reduces prejudice against people who are different from us. This helps us to connect with individuals who are different from us while avoiding misunderstandings, resulting in a society where we may enjoy our differences and similarities.
If you are reading this, I want to inspire you with Bernard’s story to learn a new language, especially if you are part of Generation Z like me. The study of a foreign language has many advantages. Among them, speaking and communicating with people in another language fosters independence and improves job opportunities. But it is also a fantastic opportunity to interact, learn, and discover other cultures. Knowing a new language also gives us a leg up in today’s globalized marketplace. Being multilingual provides crucial social skills for dealing with people from other backgrounds. Such abilities include being more sensitive to others, being more empathic, and communicating more effectively.
So, what are you waiting for?