It was a huge, tan building the size of a city block. For close to seven years, my life revolved around this place. Each morning, my short legs ran to class, where I would greet passing students and teachers, not with a “Hi, how are you doing?” but with a “Bonjour, comme on ça va?” Starting from the young age of six, the French language and culture has impacted me.
I was fortunate to attend an international school at a young age. From Kindergarten to fifth grade, I went to the French American International School in San Francisco, and since then, I have completely immersed myself in the French language and culture.
I believe that being bilingual is absolutely essential to fully understanding the world. Even just having an understanding of cultures that are not your own, and appreciating them for what they are is incredibly important. When you do this, you can see the beauty in each country more than you could have before. This is the first step to becoming a global citizen with a world view.
Growing up in America, I have noticed that my generation does not seem to realize the wealth of knowledge they could tap into simply by opening their eyes to the world around them. Being in a French immersion environment from such a young age, I realized the importance of this. However, I am afraid that this generation does not (and future generations will not) realize the importance of broadening their perspective. I feel like the adolescents of today have become more interested in what is going on with celebrities than world news.
Being involved with something that may not be your own boosts your self confidence. It could be anything, but the beauty of knowing another language is that you can go somewhere and utilize it as a tool. You can clearly see yourself making a difference.
I have used the French language as a tool, especially when traveling. I have been lucky enough to have traveled to France four times. My fluency comes very handy when I am translating something to a waiter or sales clerk for my parents. Not only that, but when you speak the native language of a country makes you feel like more of a global citizen, like you belong in the place you are visiting.
The world is a large place, and understanding it is essential to progressing. There is so much going on in the world, and people need to see that knowing, understanding, and taking an interest in it is very important. Once one is bilingual, it gives you a different outlook on the world that one may not have had before.
Start exploring the many languages and cultures around you. If you are ever given the opportunity to study abroad, seize it! Letting yourself be fully immersed into another culture can really make you view everything differently.