TED spends the last two hours of Wednesday afternoons in what we call “Learning Wednesday.” This time is reserved for a lecture, company wide meeting, or a series of workshops created and hosted by the staff.
For this month, I volunteered to host a workshop called “A Sociologist’s Guide to Spanish,” where we explore the Latino/Hispanic communities that coexist in New York City and the differences in the Spanish each of these groups speak. We have a number of native Spanish speakers from different countries on our teams, so we’ll host and discuss language differences together with some of our coworkers who are new to the language. It’s also a neat opportunity to compare pronunciation, slang, and expressions between our communities.
This seemed like a good time to host this workshop as the city comes together to support all of its communities in light of the executive order on immigration and the proposal for the border wall going through the government.
We have many different immigrant communities in our city, all coexisting peacefully, and language is one wonderful way to connect to our neighbors. I would love to be able to teach my coworkers enough Spanish that they could ask for directions or specific groceries in some of the predominantly Spanish-speaking areas of the city. Practicing a language that is foreign to you is humbling. It is good to see what it’s like to stumble through someone else’s words and sentence structures to fully appreciate what it means to learn English as a second language. It’s also about recognizing how cool it is that you can visit a neighborhood like Corona in Queens and practice your Spanish with a short trip on the train.
The guidebook I created includes some basic conversations in Spanish with relevant vocabulary lists, demographic information about different neighborhoods and communities within Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, and our favorite recipes from the different countries represented within our staff.
This was a tiny way I can be a bridge between two of my communities, but it was also a nice way to introduce a broader conversation about the diversity that exists within Spanish speakers in New York and across our hemisphere.
Header Image credit: Chris Goldberg / Flickr