Postcards of Diversity

October 6, 2011
By Anonymous

My sister and I sprinted playfully, one after another, though Trafalgar Square, as if we were avoiding the stares of the bronze lions stationed there. As we ran, the frozen pink delights in the waffle cones gripped by our sweaty hands slowly dripped down the side. Finally, out of breath, we stopped to lick the dripping sugary liquid off of our fingers. People were crowding around, taking pictures, and casually talking to each other. We giggled upon hearing the foreign accents of the people speaking next to us. All we could tell was that they weren't like us--that they were different. But we were little girls, and nothing meant much to us, except for the frozen scoops of ice cream that we got every time we went on vacation.

We stepped into the house of one of my mom's old friends in Germany, unsure of what to expect. They greeted us in English, and brought us to the bedrooms they had set up for us. We jumped onto the beds and stared at the pictures on the wall. Suddenly, my sister jumped up in delight. There were little packets of gummy bears under our pillows. We squealed in delight and fought over which one of us had more green colored little bears. The next day, when my parents decided we would all go for a walk, my sister and I decided we would go get ice cream. We ran over to the kiosk on the side of the road, dragging my reluctant dad over to see what flavors they had. We both wanted strawberry ice cream again, except the vendor spoke German. It was the first time I had heard another language. At the glass counter, my dad tried his best to point out which flavor we wanted. My sister and I giggled again as we watched minutes go by until they had accurately communicated the right row and column location of our flavor.

My sister and I gazed upwards at the looming cathedral. It was hot, crowded, and loud, just like it had been in Trafalgar Square. Except this time, they were speaking in some language that I hadn't heard about in school. But as little girls, we didn't care. All we wanted to see were the majestic cathedrals and churches that dotted the city. All we wanted to touch were the little wooden frogs that piled high, on top of the tables of the crowded vendors there. We bought more ice cream here too. Except my dad had mastered the art of frustratingly, albeit effectively, pointing at certain pink cartons of frozen joy. I was still a little girl, and nothing meant more to me than strawberry ice cream.

Many years later, I took my first French class at school. I thought that perhaps I could possibly start to connect with other people now, like those my sister and I had eavesdropped on in Europe. After three years of French class, my parents decided to go to Canada. We flew into the airport at Montréal, which was nearly empty. We didn't a whole lot of people until we we reached the streets, which were covered with almost frozen snow and the footprints of all the people who had hurried by. Except this time, as we waited at the street corner, I heard not one, but three different languages. I stared at everyone around us. I recognized a hint of French and what I thought was Italian, but there was no English in the mix, which hit me as a surprise. I thought people only spoke English here. The whole diversity thing still hadn't kicked in my mind yet, apparently.

We drove to Québec a couple days later, except this time, I went there expecting to hear French and English as I had learned at school. Sure enough, the street folks spoke French, and occasionally a little bit of English. I was only able to understand a couple of phrases here and there, but the few I did recognize made me happy to know something had been accomplished. When we went into a restaurant to eat, however, the waitress unknowingly asked us for our orders in French. I made a feeble attempt at saying the name of the dish in French, but it evidently didn't translate through. Eventually, we reverted back to frustratingly pointing at lines on the menu, like we used to do.

Perhaps it was just my own ineptitude at grasping the grammatical intricacies and vocal inflections of French — but whatever the reason, all those age-old messages I had heard about the values of uniting a diversity of people around the world sure did propose a much harder task than I had envisioned.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Oct. 10 2011 at 9:11 pm
Me.Myself.and.I BRONZE, South Pasadena, California
2 articles 2 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

WOW! very detailed and a lovely picture of each place. How lucky you are to have visited all these wonderful locations! Keep writing! :) 

Parkland Book