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  • I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to a mother from Sicily and a father/refugee from Poland. A large community of Polish men married to Italian women lived in close proximity. Being in Argentina, we spoke Spanish; however, among the Polish men, we spoke Polish, and among the Italian women, we spoke Italian. In our home, we spoke Italian since my father spoke many languages besides these.

    I was three when we came to Boston, and I lost two of my languages - Polish and Spanish. I learned to speak English when I went to school, always asking my teachers "Como se dice..." when no one knew I needed the words. I didn't know how to ask for a turn at the paint easel or to go to the bathroom or to get a drink from the bubbler. I learned.

    I wish I could retrieve some of the words from that part of my life, pull a little Polish out of my memory like I can my Italian. Our language blends speak to what a small world we live in, the fluid nature of our ethnicities, our commonalities, and our similarities. I have mastered English except for moments that I slip up on things like "close the light" instead of turn off the light. It's about making meaning after all, isn't it? And we all, even the most self-conscious of us, make meaning.

    I think of us as a language salad, an antipasto, a smorgasbord, a salad nicoise, and any other kind of salad made up of a bunch of different elements! It's what makes us interesting, amusing and delicious! Bon appetit! Herkullinen! (I think...)
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