A month ago, I met young lady while I was out at a restaurant for dinner. She had an ebullience, as sweet and bubbly the tropical pink drink in front of her. Her keys were dangling too close to me, being the spaz I am about personal space, I noticed her purse and keys with detail. A little British double decker bus key chain dangled from her keys. After she sat her purse on the table, the bartender asked her if she had been to the UK. She proceeded to talk about her travels. Perhaps it was fate meeting this girl because she was looking for inspiration, I always say the best way to be inspired is to inspire others and give of yourself. She was a pretty African American girl, a nurse with a compelling story. Truth be told I saw a lot of myself in her. I told her she should tell her story to young girls and they would see her as a role model. But in telling her this I realized this was something that I was no longer doing. I have decided to get back into my passions of learning languages. I feel like I have been derailed. But if I’m honest with myself, that’s an excuse. After a series of unsuccessful attempts to set up a meeting with the superintendent of the high school in my hometown, I gave up. The meeting was to discuss a cultural immersion workshop I developed for the students there. I really wanted my home town high school the be the prototype for my international education program, Linglobal.
As you guys may remember I am a lover of foreign languages. I have been gone for a minuet from my Blog and YouTube videos on foreign language acquisition, travel and cultural immersion. But I am back and I want to share that since my last journey I have traveled to Barbados, Cuba and gotten my Master’s degree in International Relations. All these experiences serve as adequate preparation, but does it gives me an advantage? Not if I’m inconsistent and don’t push myself to constantly be growing and bringing something to the world. I had a steady following of readers but stopped writing and consistently growing my language skills. I wasn’t creating, inspiring or cultivating a desire to be a global citizen in anyone. Linglobal has to get moving, I cant give up so easily.
In 2015, I started my TED talks style “The Importance of Learning a Foreign Language and Traveling” series in local high schools. It was a hit, the teachers informed me that the students test scores improved and they were more engaged. I felt a sense of purpose ignite, I had to do more. I wrote a mission statement for Linglobal. That mission: to instill a love of foreign languages and travel in youth in my community who wouldn’t normally be exposed to the possibilities of seeing the world. In my hometown, these kinds of programs that would cultivate future polyglots don’t exist.
Last year, some of the students who listened to my lecture and were inspired reached out to me for advice. As high school seniors, they wanted to know how they could study abroad when they got to college. They also wanted to learn Asian languages like Korean, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. The two spirited 17 year olds had been teaching themselves Korean and Japanese using aps and other online tools. My excitement couldn’t be contained. I wanted to harness that energy and keep their momentum and enthusiasm going! They needed a teacher, or a class to attend so they could practice and get better. My friend Cornetta has a mantra, “It didn’t exist, so I created it”. That’s what I was going to do. The girls told their friends, and the two students in my Languages of Asia class became four! Linglobal was in full swing, we met in the library or at the local community development center and began a language journey.
But I started a new, very demanding, job around that same time. Now, I haven’t taught my class in 2 months, my students have been wondering when they will have their classes again. I feel like I have been derailed due to not always having a set place to teach the classes. I tried to set up a meeting with the local superintendent. Due to my hectic work schedule that always changes, I haven’t been able to meet with him to discuss having a space at the high school for my classes. I also wanted to discuss my hopes of exposing more kids to the options of learning more and being more. This blog post will be my first step in the right direction, of weekly following up and leveling up with integrity and consistency. I want to create relevant changes in my life and in the lives of others I interact with. I have to follow through if I start something that gives me this much life and ignites this much passion.
They say the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, but they fail to say that you have to keep moving. Momentum gets you there. It also has to be focused momentum, you cant keep taking detours on your journey of a thousand miles. Telling that young lady in the restaurant to go off and inspire people to travel was akin to me refueling my tank on my global citizen journey. Its time to get back on the path of expanding my language skills, showing young kids how to do the same and seeing more of the world to expand my world view.