We attended our last SH birthday party over the weekend. As I stood there listening to the Spanish being spoken all around me, it clarified something for me. SH is not just about speaking English or Mandarin. It is not a black and white experience where you interact with either people who speak your native tongue or you try to integrate into the local language. SH is special because you cannot help but have friends who speak many, many languages.
Every party we attend has a dominant language. Whether it’s German or Hebrew, Spanish or French, we often don’t understand a lot of the conversations around us. And I love it. I didn’t realize that we would be exposed to so many different cultures when we agreed to come here. I thought “oh I’ll learn Mandarin and experience Chinese culture.” But this city is so much more than that. We are lucky to have friends from all over the world and learning about their traditions and cultural norms is one of the best parts of living here.
And the kids don’t care what someone is saying, they just want to giggle and have fun. Even little kids who speak the same language often can’t understand each other, so why let that get in the way of having a good time? Watching Gabe on the playground with his friends, laughing themselves silly over a game that only they understand, I am hopeful that his acceptance of anyone and everyone stays with him.