Two different worlds: Why being bilingual is great

Dan Moreno

I was lucky enough to be born in a bicultural family, with a 100 percent Mexican father and American mother. I was born and raised in Mexico City, which now includes 20 million people.

When I decided to explore life and broaden my thoughts at age 19, I moved to Kansas City and discovered the American lifestyle and culture is simply another planet. Fortunately, thanks to my mother, I grew up with the American traditions like Thanksgiving dinner, the 4th of July and Christmas. This made the big change of moving easier on me.

I’m very proud of my Mexican heritage, including the recently celebrated Mexican Independence, which is Sept. 15-16, not on “Cinco de Mayo,” which is not even a holiday in Mexico.

When you go to Mexico, you find very good food, which includes colors and flavors most don’t even know exist. We’re the friendliest people and love tourists. There’s a lot of history, hundreds of museums, archaeological sites and many more activities. I always describe Mexico City as a place where no one ever gets bored.

Now, after transitioning from Mexico City to Kansas City, I realize the importance of being bilingual. It really opens lots of doors and offers many opportunities to succeed in student life and professionally.

Spanish is my mother tongue, but I’ve taken English as a second language since kindergarten. In my case, it was just for practice, because I grew up speaking both languages at home. I even remember when my friends were at my house and when I got in trouble, my mom would correct me in English, assuming my friends would not understand and then they would all laugh.

In my opinion and my experience, being fluent in two languages is just the beginning of a successful professional life. The Spanish Department at UMKC is amazing. There are professors from several different Hispanic countries.

Just like English has different slang or accents in every country, Spanish does too. Sometimes I don’t even know what an Argentinian word means. That is what UMKC has to offer: teaching Spanish from different perspectives and backgrounds in order to provide the best level of the language possible.

Spanish is important nowadays because of the increase of Hispanic/Latino people in America. Later, when my children misbehave, I will ground them in Spanish in front of their English-speaking friends and hopefully they will also laugh because they will know what I am saying.

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