Okay, earlier tonight I was having a great conversation with a close friend and she described the following scenario and it hit home as to why I support making English our official language.
A year ago or so, my friend Teresa moved to Paris, France to open a restaurant. You'd say, an American opening a restaurant in Paris, of all places?
Yea, it was her lifelong dream to do just that.. I applaud her for having the courage to do that and the foresight to take the necessary steps to get it done. The necessary steps weren't just to save the money, arrange the trip, arrange the necessary documentation between countries, but a crucial and often overlooked necessity--she learned French.
Teresa said it took her three months to learn the language to be able to assimilate in France. To be able to communicate, to be able to interact and to be able to survive in her new home.
She described when she arrived in Paris and secured a place to live that because she knew and spoke French things went much easier. She told me about an occurrence when there were French citizens at the local city hall and they knew she was American. They began to belittle her but she (knowing Teresa) spoke back in French giving them a piece of her Boston mind-set.
When she got to the official clerk to do her paperwork for the restaurant, she spoke in French. The clerk asked her if she wanted to converse in English because he spoke fluent English. She replied, "Why would I want you to speak to me in English?
I am in your country, I want to live here, I want to open a business here. I came here on my own accord, so I am adapting to you."
The clerk smiled and said to her, "Madame, you are very smart and you will succeed in Paris because you will fit right in just like any Parisian by speaking our language."
Of course, she hired French lawyers to take care of legal paperwork, but she handled many of the items herself to make sure things were done properly and because in the end, it was her rear end on the line.
Today, her restaurant, Kenmore Eatery, a memory to Boston's Kenmore Square is doing exceptionally well.
It goes to show that preparation always triumphs. So as Teresa knew to prepare for her relocation, one of the underlying truths was that she knew well enough to learn the language and she did. For the record, Teresa is 48 years of age and only knew and spoke English. Her personal experience refutes any notion that an older person cannot learn a new language.
I am proud to know Teresa McGovern, a former Boston resident, a die-hard Red Sox fan and now a successful American living and owning a successful restaurant in Paris, France.
Eddie V Garcia