The Bus Driver
My parents have been multilingual for as long as I can remember. I never really thought about how they had to learn English to adjust to the United States. I can’t speak another language, but I understand my parent’s native tongue pretty well. The most memorable encounter I had with multilingualism was with my bus driver in middle school. His name was Carlos Knight. Although we just called him Mr. Knight.
Mr. Knight spoke English but it was heavily accented and butchered. Spanish was clearly his first language and he spoke it often, even when giving directions to passengers. I never really understood what he was talking about in English or Spanish.
I did not start learning Spanish until High School, so a majority of what Mr. Knight said sounded like gibberish at the time. I was younger then and certainly not as wise. I along with the other kids on the bus would torment poor Mr. Knight relentlessly about his speaking. Regardless of how clear his words were, we would all pretend like we didn’t understand what he was saying.
I remember one time we had to take an alternate route that meant crossing the railroad. When you’re in a railroad crossing, you have to be completely silent. Mr. Knight yelled out “Silencio’, which from context clues could easily be referred to as silent. Instead of reaming silent though, we all screamed at him that we didn’t understand what he was saying. It was funny then, but looking back it seems mean and potentially dangerous.
Language is one of the hardest barriers to get through when you attempt to assimilate in another culture. Mr. Knight was not really a bad dude. He was just an immigrant looing to make it out in America. As a child, I never thought about the struggle he had, attempting to learn a new language. I certainly didn’t help his endeavor.
I feel as if people need to be more cognizant to the...