English is the standard and not the exception

I recently interviewed for an internship at Young & Rubicam Advertising in Miami. My book was well received and we seemed to be off to a hopeful start when, suddenly, a problem arose.
After informing me that she was one of the only “gringos” in the agency, the human resources director explained that the only possible complication she could foresee was my “language,” or lack thereof. I was absolutely appalled with this direct display of reverse discrimination. Someone was sitting before me (here in America) telling me that I was ineligible for employment (in America) because I didn’t speak Spanish (in America)! Am I missing something here besides a third language? I realize with the heavy international influence prevalent in Miami that this is a very touchy subject and, no doubt, some people will work themselves into a frenzied state of political paranoia and label me every name in the book.
My father emigrated from Czechoslovakia during World War II, so I am no stranger to Ellis Island or the freedom sought in our country; but I have to tell you, if I even visited a place where a different language was primarily spoken, you bet I’d grab a translating dictionary and give it my best shot.
Incidentally, you might be interested to know that Spanish is not as global a language as people in Miami would like to think. There are only two officially recognized global languages and those are English and French – not Spanish. Did you know it is now possible to take the Oath of Allegiance (necessary to obtain citizenship) in your native tongue? Doesn’t that seem the slightest bit ironic? Doesn’t it occur to anyone that as they’re coming to America for whatever reason, yet refusing to assimilate into the American culture, they may ultimately succeed in turning this country into the one they were trying to leave? I realize that, in the global realm of international business, Miami serves as the hub for Latin American industry, but for crying out loud – what’s a red-blooded gringo have to do to get a job around here?
One more thing – those who have become accustomed to this overly tolerant, come-as-you-are environment shouldn’t plan on leaving Miami anytime soon, because they will be unpleasantly surprised to find that in the rest of the country, English is the standard and not the exception.

Whitney W. Friedrich is a senior majoring in advertising and English.

January 21, 2003


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.