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Monday, August 13, 2007

Languages

Going out to dinner the other night with a group of China Studies students, I was reminded of how nice it is to be surrounded by foreign languages. DC in general does that...it seems like every time I leave the apartment I hear at least three foreign languages (Spanish always, and then maybe a smattering of German, or Arabic, or Chinese, or some African dialect). Anyway, out at dinner the other night, all of us had at least some level of Mandarin, four people could speak a decent level of Spanish, a few were fluent in French, a couple could speak Taiwanese, and I think a couple had some German and Japanese background as well. One guy was able to speak 7 languages, at least proficiently if not fluently, and a few could do four. I felt pretty inferior. But it also made me excited about the fact that I was surrounded by people who have the same belief in the importance of having an international, multi-lingual background, and who had traveled and lived abroad. And again, with DC in general...it seems like everyone here has some connection to the international world. The fact, then, that DC feels insulated from the rest of the world - like it is its own little universe, is all the more strange. It is a dichotomy I suspect I will be thinking a lot about - at least when I have time to take a break from the Micro.

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