Our Moving Stories: Episode 9 — EstellaConversation with: Estella.
This podcast is hosted by Bruno Villegas & Ariadne Pacheco.
Estella’s moving stor(ies) are a testimony to, and a celebration of, multilingualism.
She shares with us, her complex and “unique” identity as the daughter of Japanese origin second- generation immigrants growing up in Brazil. They remind her that her “only inheritance is education” – a message reinforced by observing them peruse higher education at night after long days of physically arduous work.
While she grows up in a Japanese Brazilian community, as a child, she learns to speak only limited Japanese and identifies fully as Brazilian. At college age, she peruses a unique opportunity to study abroad in Japan in a program conducted in English. Embarking on this educational, linguistic, and cultural journey she begins a life-changing course. She describes how language became “an entry point into culture” and a “way to connect to people by understanding their viewpoint and language.” She speaks to her privilege of becoming multilingual through an alchemy of her exposures, “encouraging environments,” and natural curiosity.
As she continues her graduate education to deepen her understanding of the process of language acquisition, she comes to recognize that many emerging bilingual students face discrimination and exclusion from both their peers and their teachers. This sparks in her a “bright desire” for children to have a positive experience of learning a new language and culture as they make their way into a new land. She reminds us of how language is so deeply interconnected in the experience of immigrant children and, in her parting words, reminds learners of new languages to “be brave” and “not be ashamed” as they make inevitable errors that come with the process of learning. Indeed, Estella’s philosophy of “approaching life through a learning heart” is a lovely reminder to us all.