How does your language and location define you?
What is your attitude and approach to those of different languages and cultures – “the Other”?
In your life, and in society as a whole, what role is there in finding the “third place” in which you and that which you define as you group can and do meet “the Other”?
In Episode 4 of It’s About Language, I have the pleasure of sharing with you a lively conversation with Carolyn Gill.
Carolyn has an energy and delight in talking about and living languages that I know will delight you, too. I talk with Carolyn about the “Other,” a term we can, alas, use to distance ourselves from humans even in our communities and country – and when we add in differences of language and culture, we can run the risk of making “the other” different to the level of exoticism or even of suspicion.
For Carolyn, “the other” has always, from her earliest years, been a human being to run toward, to listen to, to befriend, to learn from. She made me laugh out loud when she told me the story of going to college after her youth in the U.S. Midwest and meeting a person from (gasp) Delaware! Her eagerness then to learn what inhabitants of distant Delaware eat, do, and live like makes her and us laugh now, but such openness and appreciation is our first entry point to a lifelong curiosity and love of the world.
Yes, Carolyn has been curious about “the other,” particularly the language and culture of others, since she was a child. Her first memory of this was going to Québec on a family trip when she was in 2nd grade and becoming absolutely mesmerized with the beautiful sounds of the French language. She then discovered Spanish language and culture as a high school student and was hooked. As a result, she studied in Seville, Spain, in college, then returned after graduating to teach English as a Second Language for four years. After a short stint as an international flight attendant, she found her way to world language publishing where she has made her career since.
Carolyn completed a Master of Education in 2013, writing her thesis on the impact of short, authentic film on students’ cultural competence. During this time, she learned about the power of using authentic materials in the world language classroom and how they can serve as a bridge for students to explore and experience the “the other,” helping them create a “third place” in which both we ourselves and “the other” can meet.
This experience was transformative for Carolyn, as not only did it synthesize her personal and professional interests in an academic context, but she had the satisfaction of seeing students’ cultural perspectives change without ever leaving the comfort of their college campus.
Carolyn currently resides in Napa, CA, with her husband, Niles, and their dog, Jake. She is still an avid traveler, Spanish-speaker, lifelong learner, and student of viticulture. And be ready: when she meets you, she’ll want to make sure she learns all about your culture!
To learn more about previous guests on It’s About Language or access other episodes of the podcast, visit It’s About Language or click on the Podcast tab above.