Two articles I read this week highlighted the power and role in developing communication across cultures bilingualism can have. While the two articles are otherwise unrelated they struck a chord.
The first one is on a worship service in Houston, TX, in a Vineyard Church. What is remarkable about this to me anyway, was not that the church provides services in different languages– that’s not all that unusual in various communities, but that the church provides one, bilingual service. What this does, I believe is encourage communication between all the members of the church, not just within language groups. I so often hear the assertion that bilingualism leads to isolated communities. I wonder if just the opposite is true, that monolingualism leads to isolationism. Bilingualism (and indeed multilingualism) seems to better lead to integration and representation among many people.
The second article was related in the focus and desire for building community expressed by those interviewed. This article, reported in the San Jose Mercury News was about Liliana Gomez who was named bilingual teacher of the year by the California Association for Bilingual Education. Liliana Gomez teaches at Willow Glen elementary school in San Jose. Apparently, parents pushed for a dual-language bilingual program so that children in the school could learn both Spanish and English. One of the parents is quoted as saying, “I want my children to be citizens not just of Willow Glen but to be citizens of the world.”
Citizens of the world– now that’s something multilingualism can help us achieve.