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How languages played a key role in shaping my identity

Written by Stavroula Aktypi

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My life so far has been anything but conventional. I was born in the former USSR, but when I was less than two years old my parents emigrated. At that time, in Spain, there was still hardly any immigration and for that reason, I grew up feeling strange and ashamed of myself and my parents speaking a different language. I was a kid and I was struggling trying to fit. It was not until adulthood that I understood that knowing a language like Russian, in addition to Spanish and Catalan, was an advantage that could lead to great opportunities in the future. In other words, my mother languages and identity were intertwined.

I can say that it was probably one of the best decisions of my life. Learning English gave me the security of being able to find myself in remote places and still knowing that I will be able to communicate with others.

As a teenager, I entered the national table tennis team, giving me the opportunity to travel around the world. Long story short, I liked it so much that I decided to become a professional player, and I was one for more than 16 years. At that time, I understood that it was essential to learn one more language because even knowing two widely spoken ones, my options to communicate with others when I was abroad, were still very limited.

Taking part in big athletic events like the Olympics, broadened my linguistic horizons.

To this day, I can say that it was probably one of the best decisions of my life. Learning English has allowed me to have friends in every corner of the world. It has also given to me the security of being able to find myself in remote places and still knowing that I will be able to communicate with others. Regarding my professional life, the English language has given me the possibility of accessing interesting business projects and having a wide and diverse network of contacts. If there is one thing that I know for sure, is that if I would not have taken that decision back then, I would not have had access to the knowledge and experiences that made me the person I am today.

Written by Galia Dvorak– Student Language Ambassador

If you’re a language teacher dedicated to inspiring others, check out our Language Ambassador Programme.

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