“Speak English Daddy,” I lisped with my newfound baby voice. Daddy sighed in frustration. It was too late. By the time my mom had convinced him that a baby really could learn Spanish, I had already figured out that he knew English too. He could talk to me all day in Spanish, and I would still reply with a babyish “speak English Daddy!”
Now, I desperately wish I had learned Spanish as a baby. Listening to my relatives’ musical chatter has taught me to understand a few phrases, but I long to be fluent. If I was immersed in an environment where I was forced to learn Spanish, it would not take me long to pick it up, but with all my relatives so eager to practice their English on me, I haven’t got a chance.
Thankfully, both the universities that I am considering attending have programs that will allow me to work on my Spanish. If I attend either Southern Adventist University or Walla Walla University (I have been accepted by both) I can spend at least a year at either Universidad Adventista Del Plata in Argentina or Escuela Superior de Español de Segunto in Spain. These Universities have exchange student programs that will allow me to continue my college studies while I learn Spanish, and they are not far from some of my Spanish family.
As for now, I’m trying to do all I can to get ahead in school so that I can take time to immerse myself in Spanish in college. I’ve skipped a grade, I’m planning to finish a college level calculus course by the end of this year, and I’m studying to take several music exams that will well prepare me for the courses I plan to take in the coming years (I plan to study Biology and Music). I also plan to practice my Spanish this spring when I take a trip with my class to build school buildings and work with poor and underprivileged children in Honduras.
Even though I cannot yet speak Spanish, my Spanish heritage has been woven throughout my entire life. From helping my dad with his English to wishing that I could communicate with my grandparents, uncles, and aunts, the importance of the Spanish language and the value of being bilingual are lessons that I have learned the hard way. Not only will learning Spanish be valuable in my family life, but it will also be a priceless tool in my career as either a High school Biology teacher or a Physician.