By Loren Rhoades, Assistant Features Editor (Photo by Jacob Factor/The Bison)
In society today, it is almost necessary to have a knowledge of more than one language in order to communicate with others in careers as well as in everyday life. Two multilingual students on OBU’s campus use their knowledge of languages to not only build relationships, but to share the gospel as well.
Freshman multilingual communications major Colton Cross and junior Spanish major Kristin Dodd both have a proficiency in four languages. Both students have relationships and experiences that have come from being able to speak different languages.
“I definitely have more opportunities to meet people being able to speak multiple languages,” Cross said. “It helps broaden my friend group. If I only spoke English, I would not have many of the friends I have now.”
Cross speaks English, Spanish, French and German. He said he learned these languages while living in Hous-ton and said being there is what helped him better his ability to communicate with others.
“Living in Houston, I really got to experience the languages. Houston is a huge melting pot, so I had the opportunity to practice French with people from France and German with people from Germany,” he said, “and if I knew some-one spoke Spanish I would always try to speak Spanish to them.”
Knowing these languages has led Cross to want to use them as a part of his profession and as a way to share about God. He said he wants to work in missions behind the scenes as a translator.
“I believe it is a gift from God that I pick up on languages easily,” Cross said. Cross said he’s already been able to use this gift to translate for people in Houston. “I translated for a family at my home church in Houston. They spoke French, and I helped in the nursery translating for their five-year-old son,” Cross said.
Dodd can speak English, Spanish, French and Mandarin, and said she’s already had different opportunities to translate for people.
“I work with Mission Center, which is an on-campus organization that meets on Friday evenings and goes to Stockyard City in Oklahoma City. We basically do a backyard Bible club with the kids, and most of them speak Spanish as a first language. I get to interpret for their parents sometimes,” Dodd said.
Dodd said she started learn-ing Spanish at six years of age but didn’t start speaking Mandarin or French until much later.
“As soon as I started speaking English my mom started teaching me Spanish, but I didn’t start learning Mandarin until high school when I got into different classes with Chinese tutors. French just came because I have friends in Quebec and I needed it,” Dodd said.
Dodd said she now works as a staff member at a bilingual English-Spanish camp in Quebec over summer break. She said they also get Chinese students. Along, with working with Mission Center and as a camp staffer, Dodd said she has also worked with ESL class-es. From these classes, she said she has gotten the opportunity to do some translating, while also helping people share their stories.
“A year ago, when I was on winter break, I visited an ESL class that I used to volunteer for, and when I was there, a lady from Cuba was taking classes. It was her second week in class, and she asked me to translate for her and I did,” Dodd said. “I got to explain to everyone why she wanted to learn English, and I got to share her testimony. I felt like I got to be her voice.”
Among the things that can be gained from having the knowledge of different languages, both students explained, is the ability to learn about someone else’s life and background. “I just love language because with every language you study, you learn the culture as well. So, that’s what I love most about it; that I can understand the culture and different people’s back-grounds,” Cross said.