Learning By Immersion
This is part two of my reflections on my recent experience participating in a Spanish language immersion program in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that I am a bit of a word nerd and I love to study the etymology of words. This made my recent language immersion program all the more interesting, as now I was learning about the origins of words in a second language.
The verb “mostrar,” for example, in Spanish means to show or to display as it comes from the Latin root “monstrare” (meaning to point out) which comes from “monstrum.” The word “demonstrate” in English comes from the same Latin root. “Monstrum” means “a sign or wonder from God.” And interestingly is the root from which we get the word “monster,” as originally a monster was anything seen as a bad omen sent by God. I warned you I was a word nerd.
Because I was involved in a language immersion program, I, of course, decided to study the etymology of the word “immersion.” I discovered that the words “immersion” and “emerge” both come from the same Latin root “mergere,” which means “to dip, sink, or plunge.” The difference between the words immersion and emerge is found in the prefix. With “im” as the prefix, the word immersion means to go into a “dip, sink, or plunge.” With “e” as the prefix, the word emerge means to exit or come out of a “dip, sink, or plunge.” So, for example, we can immerse an object in water, and that same object can also emerge out of the water.
So this may be a long way to get to my point, but here it is. What emerges from us is a product of that in which we are immersed. If we immerse ourselves in negativity, that is what will likely emerge from us. If we surround ourselves with angry, toxic people, we will likely become angry and toxic ourselves. Yet if we immerse ourselves in life-giving spiritual practices, a life-giving spirituality, showing itself as appreciation and contentment, will likely emerge from us. And if we surround ourselves with people who serve and give back to the community, we will likely become more giving ourselves.
We truly do learn to speak the language of that in which we are immersed. So, one of the lessons I learned while in Mexico is if we want to something new to emerge in our lives, we will need to immerse ourselves in that which we wish to see emerge, whether that be a new language, or a new way of being.
Some of you have asked about the language school I attended in Cuernavaca, Mexico. It is called the Spanish Language Institute. You can find their website here. They can also arrange a home stay (optional) with a family for you and a variety of cultural excursions. If you contact them, ask for Maru and mention my name.
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