As can be seen through the recent slew of headlines, Europe, home to some of the world's greatest economic powerhouses, is currently dealing with some of the shakiest economies in its history. One of the nations experiencing the worst financial crisis is Spain. Given the continuous downward spiral as first unemployment hit record highs and then banks were in danger of a collapse, protesters hit the streets in early June.
In response to Spain's economic crisis, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia are visiting the United States this week, attending a series of meetings with the hope of strengthening the communication and relationship between both countries in an array of sectors including business, education, culture and science. As stated in El País, Felipe's visit goes beyond political purposes to those of a multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary nature. In fact, what personally stands out about the Royal family's agenda is the importance they are placing on language and international exchange between universities in both countries.
On Wednesday afternoon, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia attended an event organized by the Fundación Carolina at the Instituto de Cervantes in New York. Here Prince Felipe took the opportunity to stress the importance of having Spanish language skills in today's globally connected world, pointing out the growing influence of Latinos in America. The United States is an amalgam of cultures and in the past few years, Spanish has made its way into a variety of spheres ranging from business to politics to the arts; knowing Spanish is an asset. Language acquisition, in this case Spanish, is essential to communicating and disseminating ideas on a larger scale. However, reports continue to show that the United States lacks foreign language skills and that our current education system is inadequate. As I commented in a previous post, too much emphasis is placed on STEM and not enough attention is given to foreign language departments.
Language is essential to developing foreign relations, but when every country has its own series of domestic problems, it is easy to place these relations in the background. Once in awhile, it's important to be reminded that countries, in this case Spain and the Unites States, do not exist in isolation, but form part of a globally connected world; they are two constituents of a massive global economic network. From the epicenter of the economic hardships that both countries are facing, there is opportunity to create groundwork for greater international collaboration and partnerships so both countries can successfully continue to move forward in the 21st century.
Regardless of how anyone feels about the Spanish Crown, Prince Felipe's message affirms that teaching a foreign language, particularly Spanish, is necessary for the United States to keep up with the demands of the global economy and interact with communities on both a local and global scale.