“This is what globalization is all about”
I said as I took a bite of my arepa (aka. the Venezuelan daily bread) filled with mozzarella cheese. In the background, the beat of the Norwegian DJ Kygo filled the room. I made the observation with bemusement, and my friend who had spent the last week exploring Los Angeles and some of San Jose shared the feeling; after all, my friend Gesi was from Germany, and we had known each other for two years after meeting in New York City. While taking another bite, Gesi tapped the table, which only drove the point home for me. Swedish furniture. Sweden was also present in our dining experience.
Perhaps there are still corners of the world where this kind of diversity is kept to a minimum. Perhaps it goes by unnoticed. Certainly in the metropolitan cities of the world this is no longer the case, no matter how much people fight it. The exchange of cultures is not a new tendency, it has just become quicker and more widespread in our modern age.
This past week in my current SoCal city, I had dinner with a Roman in a Neapolitan pizzeria (MiDiCi, and I recommend), had breakfast in a Cuban bakery (Porto’s) with my German friend and an Italian from Naples, had dinner with a Puerto Rican and a girl who is from Miami, but is also from Peru and Argentina, sang to the beat of Hotel California with a friend from Russia, and had quesadilla with a friend from Mexico.
I no longer look at these moments with awe, or with any sort of surprise. Maybe I should. They are wonderful moments, and I have created a life for myself where there is a constant flow and exchange of cultural ideas. Listening to a different language being spoken can be music to my ears, and often it activates my hunger for learning. For language is the gateway for culture, and a different language can even represent a slight change in personality. Often I wish my friends who know me in spoken English, knew me in spoken Spanish. It is a different experience. It is like jumping into a parallel universe and into someone else’s world.
People who are multilingual are constantly jumping between worlds with ease, and with little thought.
There is still a fight by those holding on to an idea of Patriotism. Makes sense, we are tribal beings, but tribes are not always defined by where we are born. We have the power to choose them. But with a mix of nostalgia and hope, I look at the future and I know everything I know will be different. Languages that I cherish, will most likely perish or transform with time. Most likely not in my lifetime, but it will happen. I already feel the loss, regardless of the fact that I will not see that happen. We have to learn to embrace the change; for it is nothing new, it is just becoming more and more apparent with the rapid pace of our times.