by Miguel Alejandro Valerio
Though Spanish is my first language, when I came to St. John’s in
2004, my Spanish was very limited; but after taking several
courses, I am proud to say that I know Spanish quite well. Studying
Spanish was a journey of discovering my own identity. In High
School, I learned about Shakespeare, Emerson and Frost, but I never
heard of Sor Juana or Pablo Neruda or Gabriel García Márquez. Today
I know my own as well as yours. Today I stand on the foundation of
I know you are tired of hearing the endless litany of the
advantages of speaking Spanish. Therefore, I will not burden you
with redundancies. However, consider this:
In November of 2007 a historic moment unfolded on the American
political landscape: for the first time in US history there was a
Presidential Debate in Spanish. Such an occurrence highlights the
paramount importance of the Hispanic-American vote. The
significance of this vote goes hand-in-hand with the impact Latinos
have on the US economy. We buy tools to mow your lawns, televisions
to watch your movies after our telenovelas, and iPods to
listen to our music as well as yours. When we arrive at your store,
then, how will greet us? ¡Hola! or “Hello!”?
Beyond being consumers, Latin-Americans are, and will continue
to be, important business partners.
Globalization is not a thing of the future, but rather, one of
the present. We live in a world closely linked by the
world-wide-web. In the Middle Ages, schisms were caused by the
slowness of communication, today they are cause by hasty
When you come to Mexico or Argentina or any other Latin-American
country to buy our silver or our oil, will you say to us “I came
for your silver” or quisiera comprarle su plata?
There is a lingering question which must not be left unanswered.
The question is: Why do we have to learn their language?
In other words, why don’t they learn our language? In his
essay “On Humanism” the Twentieth Century German philosopher Martin
Die Sprache ist das Haus des Seins. “Language is
the house of Being. In its house man dwells.”
Thus, there is no difference between wrongfully evicting a person
from his/her home and asking a person to forget his language.
Moreover, the fact that we are here attests to the fact we have
visited your house, and that we know where you live. Now is your
turn to return the favor. ¡Mi casa es su casa! Accept our
invitation. Come in, make yourself at home. Mi lengua es su
lengua. In sum, if we are going to do business with
Spanish-speakers, it is only fair that we know where they live.
Career Day Presentation
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Se habla español