January 17, 2011
By Evan Pollock SILVER, Delafield, Wisconsin
Evan Pollock SILVER, Delafield, Wisconsin
7 articles 0 photos 0 comments

We make our way through customs and finally, I smile as the airport’s sliding doors sail open in front of me. I step onto the sidewalk and breathe in the brisk, invigorating air as my teacher beckons me over to the bus. On our way to the hotel, I look out of my bus window expecting to see chipmunks or squirrels—however, I see stray dogs and tropical birds in the streets. Upon our late arrival, a man greets us at the door of the hotel. He gives a subtle bow and says, “Bienvenidos a San Antonio de Belen, Costa Rica.”

I reply, “Gracias,” and realize I am not only 2,300 miles from home, but I am speaking Spanish in public.

I return home from my immersion experience eleven days later, enlightened. I tell my friends about my worldliness, but many of them scoff, thinking of a foreign language course merely as a requirement for college. However, I think of languages as an opportunity—especially in the United States. In a country that is becoming increasingly bilingual, Spanish will help me out.

In April of 2001, a girl was born in Lianjiang, China. With China’s One-Child Policy threatening them, her parents abandoned the three-day-old at the side of a road to later be found by the authorities. The following year, after ten months in an orphanage, she became a United States citizen, and more importantly, my sister.

Leah, my sister, has been a strong influence on my liking to Chinese culture. In 2009, when Arrowhead High School first offered Chinese, I enrolled with forty-five other students. Our teacher frequently brought in Chinese friends to speak with us, and I immediately had another revelation similar to my Costa Rican experience. I knew that I had found my niche.

Communication is tremendously important in forming and maintaining relations with other people, companies...even countries. When I daydream about my trip to Costa Rica or my sister’s influence on me, I also envision my future—a future of building relations with people who call Spanish or Chinese their native language.

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