Speech from Episcopal Senior, Olivia Parker '17.
Bonjour! Je m’appelle Olivia Parker et je suis la presidente du Club de Français. Je suis une élève en Français V et je suis membre de la Société Honoraire de Français. Je suis allée à une école internationale depuis que j’ai cinq ans.
I went back and forth with Monsieur Prévost about whether I should deliver this speech in English or in French. He wanted me to speak to you in French, but I want you to actually understand what I have to say.
Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his native language, that goes to his heart.” Something I pride myself on is the fact that I am trilingual. I’m fluent in French, Spanish, and obviously English. This is because I attended a full-immersion school from kindergarten to seventh grade. There, I learned everything in another language. I learned to do Algebra in French and write a Lab Report in Spanish. My multilingual background has opened more doors for me than I can count. As a child, I was exposed to dozens of cultures other than my own, and it made me a more globally aware, open-minded, and adaptable person.
In today’s world, we are growing more and more connected as citizens of the Earth. It’s no secret that the demand for bilingualism is on the rise and that being bilingual can be a significant career advantage, but did you know that bilingualism has been shown to slow the detrimental effects of Alzheimer’s disease? Bilinguals have also been proven to have better problem-solving skills than monolinguals, but learning and mastering another language isn’t just about being smarter or getting a better job. It’s about being able to understand the world and its people better. Multilingualism connects the human family, and in today’s world, we need it more than ever. Lack of understanding between racial, ethnic and cultural groups is largely due to communication and language problems.
As inductees of the National French Honor Society, you’re already on track to a more complete and globalized education. My message and encouragement to you is to continue to learn a language, whether it be French or not, for the rest of your life. Don’t stop just because you’ve got all of your foreign language credits. Have you ever heard someone say that they regret learning a language? Do your best to study abroad, learn a new language, experience another culture, bring the world together, and bridge the gap between societies. As the Italian director Federico Fellini said, “A different language is a different vision of life.”