Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Speaking Swahili

Today is the American Idol Finals of advertising agencies in my office. Our Hispanic business is up-for-grabs and there are three agencies that have to present their best and brightest to try and get the business. Not all at the same time, but over the next two days. and then the franchisees and corporate guys will sit in a room and evaluate and pick who they want.

So right now there are about 25 extra people mulling around my front area getting ready for the meeting that's supposed to start. One of my duties (out of my five job descriptions) is to get everything set-up: food, drinks, chairs, temperature, etc. Another is tech (obviously) - get the projector and computers set-up for the meetings. Not to mention arranging lunch for the franchisees. And that's all fine. And these people will talk TO ME in English - but then they will sit in the sitting areas (around my desk area) and talk in SPANISH! So - I know numbers 1 to 10, and a few other small words...but to hear these conversations! And some people think I talk fast! And even when I watch our Hispanic commercials I just get lost. Not to mention I have no idea if they're talking about me or practicing for the presentation!

Now - there are basically two opinions about all this in the world: 1) They need to assimiliate to English if they're going to live here - don't cater to them, and 2) We're becoming a bi-lingual country so learn it and deal with with - and in the marketing world, profit from it. I personally, have a hard time with this. In my frame of "I hate this change, they're coming in on my territory!" And I can't learn a new language that fast. We're spoiled and arrogant as Americans sometimes I think. We tend to not want to share our blessing. But I have made it a goal to learn new languages. Spanish to start. Sign language would be great, then Chinese would be good, Italian would be romantic, and Gaelic for the heck of it. I may start this week - doesn't the library have lessons on tape? Or maybe I could just watch Dora the Explorer!