As a distant spectator of the US political battle, I admit to getting a little frustrated at the anti-immigrant rant prattled out by some of the candidates to the Presidency. I just can’t help feel that the rhetoric is opportunistic and cynical, and that instead of trying to face the challenges of immigration and globalization with creative ideas, these guys are buiding barriers by pandering to our basic human fears – and doing a tremendous amount of damage to the social fabric of the United States in the process.
Maybe that’s why I loved a recent article published in the Washington Post which tells the story of a cluster of US politicians who are taking time away from their crazy-busy schedules to study Spanish in order to better communicate with their Spanish-speaking constituents. That’s right. Instead of building metaphoric walls, they’ve chosen to embrace and understand.
The article highlights Rep. David Valadao (R., Calif.) , Rep. Mark Takano (D., Calif.) and Rep. Mike Coffman (R., Colo.) who are all studying Spanish with private tutors or on immersion programs in Mexico. Apart from learning to speak Spanish, all three lawmakers have a least part of their web pages translated into Spanish.
All three of these guys set a wonderful example to their colleagues in Washington: learn a foreign language and get closer to the people you represent. And it doesn´t have to be Spanish either, any language will do. Even learning the basic speech for social protocol goes a long way to showing voters that you know a bit about their background and respect it.