University of California - San Diego
Bringing Languages to Life
What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
Drenched in sweat, I was more than ready to hop on the last subway to my hotel. Suddenly, a hand grabbed my shoulder. With my tiny fists clenched, I braced for a fight as I slowly turned around. And there, I saw a mob of Asian grandmothers."Ni hao! Ni zhi dao Jinmen daqiao zai nar?" one asked. I relaxed, relieved that I would live another day. But a new challenge faced me: answering back in Chinese.A simple question - where the Brooklyn Bridge was - turned into a puzzle in my brain. My Korean mother and Chinese father have nurtured me relentlessly to teach me their mother tongues. At the age of five, I had mastered three languages. But as I grew older, bits and pieces of the language vanished from my mind. I was nervous. My voice shook as I took out my map and pointed to our current location, guiding my finger along to the destination as I explained which trains to take. Although a bit rusty, I was surprised at how naturally the words rolled off my tongue. They looked at me with a bright smile and gave me a thumbs up saying, "Xie Xie! No worry. Your Chinese good."I had succeeded. That nerve-racking evening two summers ago gave me an opportunity to utilize my ability to speak three languages. Since then, I have indulged myself...
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