Opinion Columns & Blogs

United Way: Grateful for language services

My name is Rodrigo Masip. I’m from Spain, and I’m a student at Mid-State Literacy Council. My family and I arrived in State College one year ago; the time has passed very quickly, in fact, when I was 30 all my life began to pass very quickly. After this first year, I would like to reflect.

I clearly remember my first day here. The winter just began, and we passed from 75 degrees in Barcelona to 30 degrees in State College. My English level was elementary, I could only say “my name is Rodrigo,” and “nice to meet you.” Maybe I could say something more but it took everything to just understand the most simple sentences. To buy a simple fried tomato (sauce) jar was an ordeal, so you can imagine how difficult other things like buying health insurance and completing documents to put our daughter in school were.

It’s difficult to understand how frustrating and depressing it is to not understand a language unless you experience it yourself. With words, we express necessities, feelings, opinions and thoughts. With words, we can defend ourselves or someone else. With words we can say “I love you.” We need language to socialize. Language is as old as the human consciousness; in fact, they developed together. Then, here, we are speaking about one very important thing.

However, where the night is darkest, the sunrise is nearer. In this sunrise, I discovered MSLC. Here, like a child, I took my first steps in English. Here, I began to understand. Here, I began to socialize. Here, I began to express myself. Here, I began to share with others. All these things are very important. However, the form (how) has been and is the most important. You can teach or you can teach; you can teach coldly or you can teach with empathy, with patience, with soul.

I have written this letter to say “thank you all.” Moreover, as we say in Spain, “gracias por ser como sois,” the translation is “thank you for being as you are.”

Mid-State Literacy Council is a Centre County United Way partner agency.