Polyglots travel many countries everyday andÂ you’ll never know in this country (U.S.A.) where your next encounter will be an Hispanic polyglot.Â How about a Bolivian who grew up in Paraguay, worked in Tanzania, and speaks Afrikaans?
I was flying from St. Louis to Atlanta, and I met â€œMaria,â€ who sat right next to me on the flight. At first, she was occupied with listening to her favorite tunes. I assumed they were her favorite, since she moved her head back in forth a bit to the apparent rhythm of the music.
As the plane lifted off, we all experienced that familiar that â€œswishingâ€ sound of the engines and suddenly we were airborne. I like to do market research wherever I am, so when Maria turned her phone off, I simply asked her a question: Did she use her smart phone for communication purposes only? Or, did she use other devices as well, like the I-Pad, or notebook?
Well, she said she still used her laptop.Then the conversation turned to the typical: Where are you headed? Where is home? Etc.
Maria said she was heading back home to Atlanta, where she worked with refugees, mainly African, but was considering moving again. She said she had moved several times a child, and that was something she was accustomed. Then she asked me where I was going.
I said I had just taught a Super Thinking + Spanish seminar in St. Louis, where attendees learned to speak â€œsuitcaseâ€ or â€œon the streetâ€ Spanish in three days. She responded with interestâ€”and a bit of disbeliefâ€”so I explained further.
By this time, I was thinking in the back of my mind that the flight should have arrived in Atlanta already. Suddenly over the cabin intercom, the pilot reported that we would have to divert to Chattanooga, TN, because Atlanta still had some bad weather and we needed to refuel. We would have to wait it out in Chattanooga until the weather in Atlanta cleared.
Maria then proceeded to tell me that she was born in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and at a very young age, her father moved them to AsunciÃ³n, Paraguay, where she mostly grew up. She then said she met someone from Africa, who was now a good friend. She met him doing work with refugees. She loved doing that type of work.
Then she mentioned spending time in South Africa and â€œhanging outâ€ with some of her Afrikaner friends. As a result, she learned a bit of Afrikaans, because, she said, they refused to speak English around her.
I thought that was very interesting, so, while we were still waiting on the plane on the ground in Chattanooga, I called my friend from South Africa to give her a test. Well, to my surprise Maria did speak some Afrikaans, and my friend from South Africa said her accent was actually quite good.
So, there you have it, connecting Bolivia, Paraguay, Tanzania, and South Africaâ€”a combination you would not really expect, but here again, the world is truly a â€œHispanic Globe.â€