“Good word” in Greek is “eulogy.”
Today I’m putting in a good word for John Carlino, adding to the expressions of grief and appreciation being shared among members of the world language professional community upon learning of John’s death yesterday. I’m doing so primarily, in this blog, for the non-members of the world language community (because there are, thank goodness, many community channels through which to grieve and support).
Dear fellow-travelers, in my podcast and through my consultant and coaching work I try to bring just glimpse of the energized, collaborative, celebratory party that language professionals are constantly engaged in.
It’s almost impossible to provide enough detail to truly show that each day for those engaged in the language enterprise (personal and/or professional) is amazing, exciting, astonishing, and powerful – just like the miracle of language itself in the center of the human mind, spirit, and identity.
It’s almost impossible to express the energy and creativity that focusing on language brings to the lives, work, friendships, and families of those who have fallen in love with language experience.
It’s almost impossible to share the emotion of caring, connectedness, solidarity, and identity that language folks bring to their lives and work, living out the realization that no matter where human beings live, no matter what their culture, no matter their belief systems, that language is there at the center…that even if we do not speak another’s language we can realize it shapes their lives like our shapes us, limits them as it limits us, touches their hearts as ours touches us.
I remember the day in my supervisory work, years ago, when, in attempting to get funding for world language teachers to go to a conference, I discovered the hitherto unspoken (and cultural!) assumption blocking the administrators’ willingness: in the curricular and administrative circles from which they came, conference sessions were primarily for skipping, in favor of personal recreation. So I shared world language culture: educators actually go all day and evening to all the session and workshop slots. Because they want to. Because language touches and engages humans that way.
John Carlino was a national leader for this language community. He served as executive director of both NECTFL and NYSAFLT, on the board of JNCL-NCLIS, and in numerous other state, regional, and national capacities. But what John especially did was lead the development and execution of exactly those conferences and conventions, meetings and gatherings, where world language educators and hangers-on came to be energized, connected, fed, lifted up, affirmed, and connected with the world, through the language colleagues who came and offered their expertise and joy, too.
John knew and dedicated himself to making those language connections possible and powerful, and to supporting all of us, no matter the stage of our lives and professions, as we sought our own paths to learn and share.
So today, in John’s honor, as his colleague and friend, I’m putting in a good word for languages.
I say to you as a language learner…as a potential language educator…as a parent of children who have a chance to learn well their own language and others…to business people who are searching, searching, searching for the spark to bring in, keep, and encourage employees… I say to all of you who have not yet grasped the extraordinary joy of language: join us. Fall in love with what makes us human. Join us and see why John Carlino and so many others have dedicated their lives to this joy.
John, thank you for putting in a good word for us, always. We’ll pay it forward, in your honor.