A Message from Dr. Trapani
To All Competitors and Supporters of the Why Learn Chinese/Why Learn Languages Competition 2021:
First off, I would like to congratulate everyone in front and behind the scenes who worked so hard to bring this all together. Your many hours of hard work were absolutely worth it. A big show of gratitude for all of the passion, energy, and diligence Erika Ni brought to the position of Committee Chair.
Second, congratulations to every student who submitted an essay or poster detailing why learning languages is crucial to the future of not only our country, but of our unique and exceptional cultures here in Washington state. Our residents’ backgrounds are as varied as our geography – from the Hoh Rain Forest, one of the last remaining temperate rainforests in the northern Hemisphere, to the peaks of the Cascade Mountains, to the acres and acres of tilled farm land in the east. Since time immemorial, the Native people have spoken the languages of these geological features while recent immigrants have brought new languages to the land. There is a place here for all of them. Whether language connects you to your Elders, provides career opportunities, or expands your world view, it is one of the most vital aspects of humanity. Communication in all forms has allowed us to connect from all of the regions of Washington while never having stepped foot all together in the same room. Learning languages grants us opportunities to care for one another in times of great need. Medical interpreting during the Pandemic saved lives. Translating articles and reports eased fears about the 2020 Census. Intergenerational care brought families closer than before. Language learning gives even more than it receives and all who applied were exemplary illustrations of that.
To Katherine Kang (University Preparatory Academy – Essay) and Renee Lee (Roosevelt High School – Poster), I extend the warmest of wishes and the highest of compliments on your laudable work. Your first place finishes are well-deserved. From volunteering during the hardest months of Covid to being able to visually convey the importance of language learning, you are the future of our country. Go forth and continue to offer assistance to those in need and share your love of continued understanding in a world that can be harshest on the carers and givers. Seek opportunities to help others and in doing so, help yourself.
Lastly, I would like to apologize for my absence during the awards ceremony on Sunday evening. While not going into too many details, I will mention “fiancé”, “backcountry skiing”, and “urgent care visit for ACL strain”. We are privileged to speak the dominant language of the area where he and I could communicate effectively with the wonderful nurse practitioner who told us what happened and calmed our worries. The more others learn languages, the better we can take care of each other. However, Erika and Co. were so well prepared, I am sure I was not even missed and for that, I am also grateful.
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak and another hearty congratulations to all participants, winners, and committee members. Always work to place yourself in the position of being able to pay it forward. A place for all languages exists in our communities. Vielen Dank!