Today’s blog post comes to us from API’s Senior Vice President of Organizational Policy and Student Success, Courtney Greene! It’s in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Just over twenty years ago, I headed south to Ecuador for my academic year abroad.
Little did I know how much it would change my perspective and the future course of my life! At the time, I only knew I loved studying Spanish and was excited to complete a full course load of classes in Spanish with local students.
My life forever after would be defined by that experience. There was “Courtney pre-study abroad” and “Courtney post-study abroad,” and though I returned in the same body, my mindset was definitely new.
Flash forward to the present day and it was time for me to send my 4 and half year old son off to elementary school.
Having spent his weekdays at an immersive Spanish daycare since he was 6 months old, I was over the moon that he would continue his primary education in a dual-language program where a minimum of half of the day would be spent communicating in Spanish.
His first school project related to Hispanic Heritage month. As a family, we were asked to research a famous person of Hispanic heritage and share a paragraph about the person we chose. It was truly a group effort: my husband drew the picture of our selected public figure, I wrote out the paragraph; Eddie colored and pasted on Daddy’s drawing and painstakingly wrote “Pope Francis” along the bottom.
It’s funny that over the course of my life, I have experienced many challenges and felt gratified by overcoming them. Yet somehow the creation of a simple school project over the course of an hour competes with the satisfaction and pride I have taken in much bigger accomplishments.
My beautiful son is already worlds ahead of me!! He is already capable of interacting with Spanish speakers within our community— and visitors from around the world— in their native language, he went on his first international trip at 18 months, and his entire educational experience will compel him to consider the world and its history from a much broader and more inclusive lens.
I am proud of my community for prioritizing language learning and committing itself to bringing people of different cultural backgrounds together.
Celebrating our strengths and facing our problems together. What a beautiful concept— and we are honored to be a part of it!