Friday, September 09, 2005

Respect for others cultures

I studied french and spanish in school, and while I don't consider myself fluent, I have been around France and Spain on my own without trouble. I also speak enough Japanese to get to the train on time, and I used to speak enough mandarin to ask for a glass of water and negotiate for trinkets.

The point is that when I travel I try to learn a bit about the language to show respect and try to understand the culture a bit. I find that the structure of a language often can be an insight into a society.

My spanish has improved dramatically with my fiance, Dr. Clara Lora. We try and speak "solamente en espagnol en jueves". I notice it on the campaign trail, where I can speak to many of our hispanic residents, give a brochure in spanish, talk about what I'm running for, and a bit about myself. It is a great ice breaker.

The same for many Haitians. Just being able to ask how they are, their names, etc. in french often makes their faces light up that someone would respond to them in such a manner. I know I have many signs up around the city just because I took the time to show some respect.

I hope we can all reap the rewards of being more understanding and tolerant of each other.

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