Local has been on my mind lately. Buy local. Support local. Shop local. But how can I advocate a global ideology and multicultural identity without contradicting the local movement. After all, as owner of Dulce Bread & Book Shop, I own a local, independent, small business, yet promote global literature, ideas, and awareness, as well as share my multicultural experience with Dulce’s customers. How does promoting a local-centric movement, limiting a customer to a few local options support international credence? The support of independent and locally-owned businesses is an effort to join local forces in an attempt to competitively exist and succeed in the current global marketplace. Therefore local and global are battling foes. Right?
Not necessarily. As a language professional I often hear students, in language despair, comment that the only way to learn a foreign language is to fully immerse oneself in the language and culture by traveling abroad and enrolling in a language immersion program. True. However, the study of language is not, and should not be, a one-time experience. Language and culture are living forms, continuously developing as they live through the people that give them life. A one-time trip abroad will certainly help with foreign language acquisition and most importantly gift the student a cultural awareness of the Other, but the learning will end upon returning home and eventual loss of the language will ensue. I support studying abroad and foreign language programs in conjunction with continuous language study by immersing oneself in the language and culture locally. The U.S. is rich in language and culture yet has not allowed itself to take pleasure and benefit from this richness. As global citizens and students, we must make a fervent effort to seek out those local cultural treasures to continue our foreign language development and global awareness. Visit that side of town that is foreign to you, search and attend local bilingual, artistic performances, support and promote international functions, join a foreign language book club, volunteer for bilingual positions, and finally, dare to walk into a local foreign language environment on a daily basis, you will find the ambience engaging, for the Other is always delighted to share its cultural experience.
This post is dedicated to all local international treasures here in the greater Austin area. I encourage and challenge you to read about them, visit them, and support them on a daily basis, as they are offering an invaluable cultural treasure and gifting to Austin, diverse richness. This is truly the only way one becomes fluent in a foreign culture. If, by chance, you do not find anything of interest listed here, do not be dismayed as I make myself available to further discuss your particular cultural interests and desires. For those readers living abroad, I welcome you to visit Austin and explore its diverse and weird culture.
Belinda Acosta lives and writes in Austin, Texas where she is a columnist for the Austin Chronicle. Her non-fiction has appeared in Poets & Writers, Latino USA, the radio journal of news and culture, AlterNet, the San Antonio Current, and Latino Magazine. She is a member of Macondo, the writers’ collective launched by acclaimed writer Sandra Cisneros. DAMAS, DRAMAS, AND ANA RUIZ is her first novel.
Jean Davison is an anthropologist and author of several books, including AGRICULTURE, WOMEN AND LAND: THE AFRICAN EXPERIENCE, GENDER, LINEAGE AND ETHNICITY IN SOUTHERN AFRICA, VOICES FROM MUTIRA: CHANGE IN THE LIVES OF RURAL GIKUYU WOMEN, and THE OSTRICH WAKES: STRUGGLES FOR CHANGE IN HIGHLAND KENYA.
Kenneth Orr is a self-published author of several books, CHALK and THE COWBOY’S KIDS. Living in Dripping Springs, Kenneth Orr writes about the stories that his grandmother and father told him, and his brothers, in his younger years. “My family had Cherokee roots and the stories my grandmother told me were very real.”
Lisa Railsback was a Jerome Fellow at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis and a Michener Fellow in Writing at the University of Texas at Austin. Her plays have been performed across the United States. Noonie’s Masterpiece was originally a play. Lisa lives in Austin, Texas.
Teatro Vivo is dedicated to producing quality bilingual theater accessible to all theater audiences and artists. Its current production is KEEPING TRACK a comedy by Erica Saenz, directed by Estevan “Chuy” Zarate.
Cine Las Américas is a multicultural organization promoting cross-cultural understanding and growth by educating, entertaining, and challenging diverse audiences through film and media arts. The 13th Cine Las Américas International Film Festival is scheduled for April 21st through 29th in Austin.