by Noah Goldmann
Even with all of today’s walls and borders, we live in a globalized society. There are different cultures from ours, but they belong in the United States as much as yours or mine. The U.S. would not be the same without our Hispanic culture. Hispanic culture betters our country, and in my neighborhood, where there are not many Hispanics, we are missing many of the benefits they bring. Many Hispanics, especially the immigrants, are confronted with a steep climb to achieve the American dream. But there is so much untapped potential in the Hispanic community, and this reason, in addition to personal improvement, is why speaking Spanish is so important. Globalization and intercultural understanding is the only way to advance our society, so I am learning Spanish.
My community does not have much Hispanic culture. I live in a pretty wealthy neighborhood outside of New York City, where the price of living is very high. Hispanic immigrants would contribute vitality and culture to my community, but most do not have the money to live there. According to Zillow, the average price of a home in my neighborhood is almost $400,000, while HuffPost says that the average price of a home in America is only $200,000. This difference is very significant. In my community, we are missing the cultural benefits of Hispanics.
On the other hand, in California, Hispanic immigrants play a huge role in the economy. My uncle lives in the “wine country” of California. All of the wineries hire Latino immigrants as day laborers. Without them, there would not be anyone willing to pick the grapes. These immigrants do the jobs that no one else wants, but still they are treated terribly. According to Public Radio International, the work of California’s undocumented immigrants is valued at more than $180 billion dollars each year for the state’s economy. And this number just reflects the work of undocumented immigrants! My uncle lives in a place where the way of life depends on immigrants. Even so, Hispanic culture is not permitted to prosper because the day laborers cannot make enough money to advance and achieve the American dream. My neighborhood does not have Hispanics; my uncle’s neighborhood does; but neither has the culture of the Hispanics.
It is important to learn Spanish because being bilingual can help you to explore communities outside your own. According to a study by the Instituto Cervantes and reported by CNN, the United States is the second-largest Spanish-speaking country, after only Mexico. I want to speak Spanish to interact with and learn from the Hispanic population in the U.S. And the number of people who speak Spanish will only grow with time. In the future, a majority of the United States will be made up of “minorities.” We need to learn the ability to communicate, including the ability to speak Spanish. School funds have been cut in more than 80% of school districts since 2008. And, unfortunately, the first programs to be cut are disciplines like music, art, and foreign language. This is not the way to prepare our kids to have success in the future.
Today the different communities in the U.S.—those that speak English and those that speak Spanish—are isolated from each other. But the world is becoming more and more connected, and we have to be capable of communicating. Speaking Spanish is not about the language itself; it’s about communication. It’s about people and personal connections.
“United States Home Prices & Home Values.” Zillow, www.zillow.com/home-values/.
Greenwood, Arin. “The Median Home Price Is $188,900. Here’s What That Actually Buys You.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 13 Mar. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/13/median-home-price-2014_n_4957604.html.
Hamilton, Valerie. “California’s Undocumented Workers Help the Economy Grow – but May Pay the Cost.” Public Radio International, PRI, 6 Mar. 2017, www.pri.org/stories/2017-03-06/californias-undocumented-workers-help-grow-economy-theres-cost.
Melendez, Pilar. “More Spanish Speakers in U.S. than Spain, Report Finds.” CNN, Cable News Network, 1 July 2015, www.cnn.com/2015/07/01/us/spanish-speakers-united-states-spain/index.html.
Boyd, Stacey. “Extracurriculars Are Central to Learning.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 28 Apr. 2014, www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2014/04/28/music-art-and-language-programs-in-schools-have-long-lasting-benefits.