Posted by: SSU Lingua Franca | April 24, 2019

HOPE Award 2019: Winning Essays

Each year, the Department of World Languages and Cultures holds an essay competition exploring the dynamic relationship between community and humanitarian service, education and leadership; particularly in the context of improving our world.

This year, writers were asked to respond to this quote from Rumi: Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world.” 

This year’s FIRST PRIZE is awarded to Aminata Keita for her essay, “The Importance of Language.” SECOND PRIZE is awarded to Anthony DiVirgilio for his essay, “L’Importanza delle Lingue in un Mondo Transnazionale.” HONORABLE MENTION is awarded to Sasha Burgess for her essay, “Idiomas y Culturas: Seeing New Worlds Through Language.”

2019 HOPE Award Winning Essay: The Importance of Language

By Aminata Keita

In the modern world, no one will be surprised by the knowledge of several languages, but few people think about what the real importance of language is. Language, as the central element of human communication, not only assists us to transmit information about the world but also to participate in its creation. Without language, it would be impossible to accumulate and transfer experience, build a society, and develop the benefits of civilization. Consequently, the more languages a person knows, the more one has the power to change the world. According to Rumi, a person who speaks a new language creates a new world, and therefore everyone interested in the development of the surrounding world should be interested in learning new languages.

The ability to speak more than one language gives a person unlimited opportunities with which to explore the world and develop oneself. A foreign language is a kind of code to another culture, by deciphering it one can better understand other people, appreciate their experience as well as their material and spiritual holdings. The particular advantage that the study of other languages provides is not the opportunity to study or work abroad, but rather, the ability to communicate with people in their own dialect, becoming at the same time a part of a single society that has no boundaries.

I think, when Rumi spoke about the importance of language and how knowledge of several languages extends the limits of human capabilities, he had in mind precisely the possibility of uniting human souls and creating a single cultural experience through communication in the language of the other person. If one looks at human history or mythology, it becomes evident that the issue of unity through language has long been considered. For instance, the story about the Tower of Babel and the division of a common language into different languages of the world assists in understanding that knowledge of the neighbor’s dialect is the key to harmony and building a perfect world.

Based on my experience, I can say that mastering another language was useful to me in familiarizing myself with the culture of another country and allowed me to get to know its features better. So, a few years ago, I was fascinated by the culture of Japan, and I wanted to learn how to read the original Japanese traditional haiku poems. Unfortunately, Japanese turned out to be quite tricky for me, and I was not able to study it sufficiently to speak fluently, but my knowledge was enough to read my favorite haiku by Matsuo Basho in the original:

Spring passes and the birds cry out — tears in the eyes of fishes.

This haiku is Sam Hamill’s translation and has always been my favorite. I wanted to know what value Basho put into his original expression and what signs he used to describe the departure of spring. To my surprise, the words in Japanese turned out to be very simple, free of profound metaphor and vividness, and were simple words that assisted my understanding of the aesthetics of Japanese culture, which Basho conveyed in his lines. Thus, even a superficial study of another language enabled me to better understand the culture of another people, the features of their vision of the world, thereby expanding my perception and making me more susceptible to the beauty of the world around me. Moreover, I am sure that the study of other languages will assist not only me but also every person who wants to learn new things, to expand his vision of the world and to improve by uniting with other people.

Summing up, I agree with Rumi’s opinion about the importance of learning languages for self development and for the perfection of the world. My experience of learning Japanese assisted me to better understand the culture of Japan, and especially the poems of my favorite Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. I am sure that knowledge of other languages is beneficial for any person who wants to understand himself and the world around him better, and also to contribute to the cultural development of society.

2019 HOPE Award Runner-Up: L’Importanza delle lingue in un mondo transnazionale

By Anthony Di Virgilio

Penso che la frase di Rumi significhi che la nostra capacità di capire e parlare lingue diverse ci permette di conversare con persone di culture ed etnie diverse, e che questo contribuisce alla crescita personale e alla consapevolezza culturale. Inoltre, quando capisci una lingua straniera, sei capace di usare la tua passione e le tue abilità per beneficiare del mondo in modi diversi. Quindi, più lingue conosci, più modi hai per aiutare il mondo, perché la comprensione di molte lingue è una abilità appllicabile in altri contesti e non esiste un modo solo per utilizzare questo talento.

Personalmente, ho migliorato la mia capacità di parlare, scrivere e usare l’italiano durante i miei anni di studio a Salem State, ma ora che mi avvicino alla laurea questo semestre, ho iniziato a pensare a come posso usare la lingua italiana in un modo innovativo per aiutare il mondo dopo la mia laurea. Ho iniziato a immaginare il lavoro dei miei sogni che mi permetterà di usare l’italiano in combinazione con la mia vera passione nella vita. Ho pensato di connettere il mio amore per l’italiano, i viaggi e la pallacanestro e provare a diventare uno scopritore di talenti internazionale per pallacanestro. Molte squadre della NBA hanno molte scopritori di talenti in diverse regioni del globo. Spero un giorno di diventare uno scopritore di talenti Europeo, in Italia più che in altri stati, perché oggi le squadre nella Lega Basket Serie A in Italia, sono seconde solo alle squadre dei club spagnoli in tutta Europa. Chiaramente questo non sarà un lavoro facile da creare. Per ora sono uno studente in una classe per scopritore di talenti sull’ internet, che mi ha permesso di parlare con scopritori di talenti internazionali e executive della NBA. Spero che questa esperienza possa aiutarmi ad ottenere una posizione che non richiede un’ esperienza nel campo, che infine mi porterà al mio lavoro da sogno di diventare uno scopritore di talenti Europeo per la pallacanestro. Mentre mi preparo per la laurea, comincio a riflettere e a comprendere come ho beneficiato personalmente nel continuare a imparare una lingua straniera a Salem State. Le lezioni di lingua e cultura globale a Salem State, mi hanno permesso di capire di più sulla mia personalità e il mondo favoloso che condividiamo. Sono grato di avere avuto l’opportunità durante il mio tempo a Salem State di andare in Germania e in Grecia per imparare dalla loro cultura, e di avere avuto anche la possibilità di viaggiare in Sicilia e di usare l’Italiano in un contesto reale. Non dimenticherò mai le persone che ho incontrato all’estero e le persone nel dipartimento di World Langauges and Cultures a Salem State, che mi hanno aiutato a realizzare il mio scopo nella vita. Amo Salem State, amo le diverse culture nel mondo, e non vedo l’ora di affrontare il futuro.

 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: