¿Hablan español?

Jessica Lumpp

After enrolling in my first Spanish class my freshman year of high school, I knew someday I wanted to be as close to fluent as I could get.

So, it was a no-brainer when I chose Spanish as my minor. Ever since that decision, I always get the same response upon people discovering my minor: “Oh, do you need that for your major?”

And they seem appalled when I answer, “No.”

The follow-up question is usually, “What are you going to do with that?”

A better question is what can’t I do with that?

It seems to me Ohioans are stuck in our own hillbilly mindset and don’t realize that there are other states in our precious America – much more diverse states at that.

My suspicions are only reinforced by the fact that my Spanish Reading and Conversation class this semester – one of only two sections – has six students in it, including myself. As of Fall 2007, there were 34,056 students enrolled at Kent State.

According to the U.S Census, there are about 18 million foreign-born Latin Americans living in the United States as of 2003 who probably don’t want to give up their language because we are too lazy to pick up a Spanish book.

Spanish is commonly spoken in the southwest and in plenty of urban areas across the country.

In states such as Arizona and New Mexico, announcements on store loud speakers are read in English and then in Spanish, and it’s not uncommon to come across someone who doesn’t speak English at all.

In this situation lots of people love to say, “This is America! Speak English!”

I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard that comment.

My friend and I experienced that displeasure while practicing our Spanish on Main Street, when a young gentleman felt the need to inform us of the country we were in and the language that was spoken in America.

Thank you, sir, but we are aware.

We were quite irritated as Caucasians practicing the language, but I can not even imagine how a native Spanish speaker would feel.

I wanted to run right back to Mexico were I can freely speak any language I want.

I had the pleasure of living in Mexico for a month last summer with 30 other Kent State students, and I can only dream of a society as accepting for America.

So many people in Mexico already spoke English, but those who didn’t were eager to practice their conjugations on us. And they definitely weren’t afraid of trying their hardest to have a conversation with us in their broken English.

It was uplifting to see people take time away from themselves to learn something new, to want to understand someone else’s culture and language.

I am not urging everyone to skip to Satterfield Hall tomorrow and change their major to Spanish, but I do feel we should prepare for our future.

It’s possible Spanish could trump English in America someday, and there may be nothing we can do about it but to embrace it.

Jessica Lumpp is a magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].