The Lexus and the Olive Tree
When people ask me how long I have been here I tell them six or seven weeks. They ask me what I have been doing with my time and I tell them I have been studying. A lot. I also tell them that besides Spanish classes I am taking two other classes.
Right now I’m taking a class on The History of Latin America as well as a class entitled Globalization and the International Economy in an Information Age. Long title, I know. It’s a complicated subject.
My Latin American history class only has 4 other students, but my Globalization class only has one other. Our class time is more of a book club and discussion on the topic of globalization and less like a typical classroom. Depending on how much caffeine I have in my system, I am always excited for this class each week.
We just finished reading The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman, which outlines a millennial approach to globalization.
That is, he states because the United States was the first at globalization and emperical expansionism, that they would be the last as well.
I appreciate Friedman’s approach towards describing the basics of globalization. This approach of a free-market capitalism vs. controlled capitalism, the downfall of militaristic empires after the end of the Cold war, the advancement of technology and social justice, his description of corruption of “kleptocracies” and the intensity of global instant communication.
However, even now he is biting his tongue as he realizes The States have been inable at maintaining the empire and is quickly heading the way of the buffalo. Or maybe just England, the old era’s dominating power.
He predicted the shift towards the information age, but he underestimated it. He underestimated that by the time I’m out of college any job I might have wanted before is now in Mexico, Guatemala, and China, and so my work future is rather dismal. Gone are the well paying, mindless factory jobs in the car industry. Now, if you want to work, you’ve got to capable of critical thinking. And actually, I kind of like that idea.
Because whatever happens next, the important thing is education, education, education.
This why I am studying Spanish so hard. To embrace another culture and to be able to communicate on a global market. Both economically, and spiritually, learning another’s language is beneficial. You can’t succeed in a global marketplace if you only speak one language and it is hard to understand another culture without speaking the language.
I am lucky in one respect, because if there is one dominant language of the internet it is certainly English. However, just speaking English isn’t good enough anymore. Right now I am studying hard because maybe after Spanish I will try to learn French. Maybe after french, Mandarin. That would really be ideal. Quad-lingual? English, Spanish, French, Mandarin.
To be a true student of “Global Studies”, as my major is called, language learning is integral.
On Thursday I met with Cesar, a student of the University of San Carlos. At his University you are required to pass a certain grade of English, otherwise you will not receive a diploma. He wants to learn English for the same reasons I want to learn Spanish.
So, we practice together. We spent some time speaking in English and I would correct his words. We spent some more time speaking in Spanish, and he would correct my mistakes.
But as Cesar’s profesor said, “Mandarin is the next world’s English”.
It’s a wonderful system of sharing. And when it comes to learning new things, I’m addicted for life.