Learning to be Bilingual: An Immersive Experience

BA French

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.
‒Nelson Mandela

Learning a new language is tough.  Many cultures of the world carry long oral tradition and pass along much unwritten history, stories, and the unique speech dialects to the next generation. I suppose this is what makes each beautiful, the articulate differences color specific languages sharply and make it more difficult to learn without truly understanding the origins, customs, and attitudes of each one. Even regionally, the dialect of the same language will greatly vary and sound completely new. I had this experience in 2001 when travelling between Arequipa and Lima, Peru. The dialect of Spanish was sharp, fast, almost witty in Lima, while in Arequipa it was more slow, relaxed and much more easy for my ears to comprehend.

Taking it upon myself to learn the French language is a gritty challenge but also a personal and spiritual goal. My great grandmother Louise McGee earned her Bachelor of Arts in French degree at UC Berkeley. I feel it would be only the beginning of a special tradition to follow in her footsteps, learn French, and live in France for four years to solidify the language.  An idea I have been musing on includes trying to integrate readings of French and European period history with learning the language. At the moment, I am using Rosetta Stone French levels 1-5 to help me make my goal a reality. Rosetta Stone is unusual yet very effective in it’s teaching style, as it uses only photos and verbal tones to teach the language. As a visual learner, it is great for someone like me! Even though I am admittedly still on level one, I have no deadline as of now as I am also finishing my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at the University of Nevada, Reno. Time is all I need.

Oddly enough, my European girlfriend Julie who is bilingual with multiple languages (Dutch, French, Swedish, German, and Italian) said to NOT learn French from the Canadians…she said Jessica, No! You will speak terrible French! That is just not French! It made my laugh heartily and reminisce over how much I miss Europeans. However, for sake of learning the words and price of plane tickets from the US, I may just take my chances and fly to Ottawa when I reach a moderate level of French speaking ability.


According to Voxy News article,”Why it Pays to be Bilingual”, the benefits of learning languages include:

  • Increasing cognitive development and abilities
  • Improve metalinguistic skills
  • Advance verbal and special abilities
  • Augment memory skills
  • Become a better multitasker
  • May protect against Alzheimer’s disease when switching between two language systems
  • Might make more money with such a marketable skill as an asset
  • Become more bicultural and understanding of separate cultures


“The time lost, the eternal return, time found, it can be thought of together. Moreover every writer a little interesting only interested in time and how to get out … but the time defends, time has its enthusiasts, the time has its clergy. Time will continue to be the time it takes. “

Philippe Sollers, on Proust, in praise of infinity.

When learning a language, take your time to understand the heritage(s) underlying the words you are speaking. Realizing why irregular verbs are so different and absorbing the impact it has on you as an individual all make the experience more fulfilling and dramatic in the best way. Just imagine the future experiences, such as when you can dream in German or Spanish or whichever language you wish to pursue. Enjoy!

Are you currently learning a language? Which one? Do you aspire to learn several languages one day? Please comment below.


A photo of me standing across from the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile


Highlight: Tips on Surviving the Bridal Shower


Bridal Party: Don’t overwork yourselves!

Whether you are traveling far far away or a simple road trip to visit family four hours away, preparing for your ‘vacation’ is more than necessary. This is especially important when an event is foreseen. For me this weekend, it was being the Maid of Honor for the Bridal Shower of my best friend Lindsay since kindergarten! Not so much of a ‘vacation’ but more so a mandatory pre-wedding event! Nonetheless, my essential ‘emergency packing kit’ included many items in case this three-hour situation called upon my honorable services due in order to live up to my title. To name a few: my camera (fully charged), band-aids/Neosporin, make-up of all sorts, bottle of wine (never show up empty-handed), and pain killers. Some duties the MOH (Maid of Honor) needs to accomplish are not so easy to identify, such as being the mother hen for the emotional bride. Fortunately for me, Linds is just not that type of gal. She is more of the two Sangria drinks only followed by coffee, drive the MOH to bridal shower, chocolate fountain with strawberries, tri-tip eating, Bridezilla chemical engineer/country girl (is this possible? Well, in short, yes.)

Attending the bridal shower, co hosted by mother and grandmother of the bride, I was under high radar and observation. Imagine you are surrounded by all female friends and family of the bride, and all of these females will be attending the wedding accordingly. The pressure can be intense, but just remember whom specifically you are there for and chat with those you feel best striking up a conversation with. This is a great opportunity to get to know who will be at all of the pre-wedding events, including many who will be at the rehearsal dinner and others for the bachelorette party. It’s also a great idea to engage more with the other bridesmaids and chat about the upcoming bachelorette party planning and their ideas for it. Also, one bridal shower game was plenty for this older crowd, they all sighed with relief after the ‘How Well do You know the Bride~To~Be?’ questionnaire game! Be sure to include prizes for these games as well, it seems to help smooth the process.

With some patience, a night of full sleep, and a chilled glass of Chardonnay in one hand, you can follow these tips from The Knot to help you maneuver a Bridal Shower when that time in your life may arise:

  • Dress up, not down! It is important to make a great impression even when most are dressed pretty casual. Keep it fun and ‘bridal party’ friendly though.
  • Speak of the bride as the ‘topic of choice’ and invite her over to pitch in on hints about her dress, shoes, etc.
  • Offer to plan the bride so that she can have as many drinks as she would like. (Again, my bride~to~be is the Control Type, which meant I drank more while she drove!)
  • Engage everyone with the games, help collect answers with the hostesses.
  • Take plenty of photos! Get creative and set up the bridal party next to the view or pretty garden pavilion.
  • Keep track of which guest gave which present, and another should make sure cards stay with the right boxes — then thank-you notes won’t be a nightmare for the bride.
  • Help with clean up, picking up tissue paper, and putting away dishes.

Don’t forget, always say thank you to the hostesses or co-hostess of your bridal shower!

Have you recently attended a bridal shower? Was it a success or failure? Did the bride~to~be love it?


Lindsay trying on the Maid of Honor sash on me!


The tables outside where we were able to enjoy the Summer sunshine!

Stan Rushworth, A Living Memoir of Native History & Today’s War

After four years at my beloved Cabrillo College, walking away with an Associate Degree in Business Administration was the epitome of a bittersweet experience. It was here I learned how to maneuver through the public California academic system, file for financial aid, and pay gas in cash and leftover credit on my cards for my 95’ Ford F-150 to get back up the mountain and home for another day.  However, it was here I made milestones and learned life’s most essential lessons, such as independence, going from nobody to somebody, becoming influential, having a voice, being self-aware, speaking to emote, and including above all else, leading life as a skeptic.

There are a handful of outstanding professors that I can describe endlessly from pure memory, but the one that hit me the hardest and resonates most closely with the intent of Cabrillo College is Professor Stan Rushworth. At age 5, he was raised by his grandfather, a mixedblood Tsalagi Indian man returning to the traditional ways in Oakdale, CA. His journey to Guatemala infused his understandings to a very complex level of how the true indigenous bloods of the lands we call divided countries now, of the tribes once founded from North America thrived through Central, South America, and further.

“I want to use my little corner here at Cabrillo to expose people to that material. Not only the knowledge that it carries, but the implications it has.”

Rushworth made a clear point of how these men, women, and children are not merely “Indians”; these Mayan Guatemalans, Inca, Aztec, Winnebagos, Cherokees, Apaches, Dakotas, Tsalagi, and other tribes are real people that have lived generations of ‘realities’ and perspectives the average person cannot fathom being put in our history books.  There is history out there that further defines the diversity of our country today…the Natives also need to know how important their role lies in the future.

 “I think U.S. policy can change when people become educated. Its not an easy change, but we know so very little about our own indigenous history, much less outside our borders,” he said. “Indigenous people are kind of invisible, really, to the American imagination. I think that has really horrifying repercussions today not only outside our borders but within our borders as well.”

From branding, brutally raping, and successfully dehumanizing the tribal people to a formal apology as loud as a ‘tree falling in the forest’. It was on Saturday, December 19, 2009; President Barack Obama signed the Native American Apology Resolution into law. No one heard a sound. It made no difference.

Moving forward, seek more knowledge to further understand modern political battles between tribes in Guatemala and the corruption of law. There is much to do with helping to achieve balance so that all cultures can live in peace. From the health of local reservation lands such a Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe to the Mayan Guatemalans, it is important to be cognizant of the world’s affairs and how it may one day affect your ‘reality’ of this life.

“I’m just one guy with one opinion. I think American students should really do research and make their own decisions,” he said. “That’s my goal. Not to have people take my word for it, but look into it because there’s a connection between indigenous experience in the U.S. and throughout the Americas.”

Did this shed light on the depth of Native history ‘mixing’ with American ancestries? Do you feel learning more about the cultures of lands between tribes and modern political battles will influence you to take action, whether that is to pass on the word or personally help the cause? Please leave a comment below.


Stan Rushworth himself.


Stan Rushworth’s novel, full of imagery-rich short stories, prayers, and essays.

Culture Focus: Gay Marriage Benefits Us All

Psychologists say the first impression left is always the strongest impression to hold. When traveling through Paris, the first thought passing through my mind was life, culture, and action! This is truer than ever as France passed a tremendously influential law legalizing gay marriage on May 17th, 2013. This law represents ‘changing environments’ in its fullest entirety. This revolutionizing shift will shine reflectively through culture, ethics, business, and for all countries. Just as President Barack Obama wants one to “keep setting an example for what it means to be a man. Be the best husband to your wife or your boyfriend or your partner. Be the best father you can be to your children. Because nothing is more important.”  So you see, being LGBT friendly is nothing less than accepting the natural, respecting psychological basis of ‘being human’.  These moments in France and in twelve of our home states has made the Huffington Post 17 LGBT Political Moments That Made Us Proud This Year. As we ponder these changes and absorb the culture of generations to develop, it is important to embrace the benefits of our gay counterparts.

Here is a list of ‘food for thought’ from the Huffington Post of 7 Ways the U.S.A. Benefits From the Legalization of Gay Marriage:

1.        Promotes Equality and Non-Discrimination in Society

2.        Fosters Psychological, Physical, and Social Wellbeing Amongst LGBT People

3.        Promotes Family Stability and Validates LGBT Family Units

4.        Provides Economic and Business Opportunities

5.        Fosters True Freedom of Religion

6.        Assists With the De-politicization of LGBT Rights

7.        Strengthens National Identity and International Reputation

It’s absolutely no wonder France took this initiative and brave step to embrace the LGBT Community. The beneficial possibilities for the unity are endless. This is more than accepting gay livelihood, this is breaking down walls and accepting culture.

“When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of that old Negro spiritual, Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

~King Jr. Martin Luther


What do you think of these global cultural changes? Do you feel this demotes discrimination for all? Leave a comment below.