Love for travel inspires senior to pursue education in multiple foreign languages

Sara Naatz, Managing Editor

Hello.

Salve.

Hola.

Bonjour.

Words of four different languages swim through senior Joseph Davies’ head as he attempts to pick the right ones.

During his high school career, Davies has taken a semester of Latin, three years of Spanish and four years of French.

He said his passion for world cultures and travel inspired him to take multiple foreign language classes.

“I really want to travel when I get older,” he said. “I figured that if I learn a bunch of languages, my traveling options are wider. I’ve always wanted to see the world.”

Davies said learning multiple languages allows him to see the connection between them, but can also be difficult.

“I get them confused a lot,” he said. “But it’s good because they play off each other, like some things I learn in French, I learn afterwards in Spanish, and I already know it.”

French teacher Carol Bar said he capitalizes on his capacity for language by seeing the similarities between them.

“He’s taken his language to a new level,” she said. “He draws connections between all of the languages he’s learning and is able to apply it. That’s rare in a student.”

In college, Davies plans to pursue a major in linguistics, the study of human languages from around the globe.

“I don’t want to specialize in a certain language,” he said. “I want to specialize in the study of languages so that I can learn other languages faster. I really want to learn a random southeast Asian language like Laos or Cambodian just because they’re not commonly spoken.”

Spanish teacher Anita Lemons said studying linguistics in the future will allow Davies to utilize his ability to learn language.

“It’s wonderful because when you have a talent you need to seize it,” she said. “You need to use it. He’s just a very talented student.”

Davies said he plans to use his degree in linguistics to become either an interpreter or an English teacher in foreign countries.

To gain experience, he plans to backpack through Britain, France and Spain over the summer.

He has already bought his backpack and will fly into Seville, Spain, to begin his trip.

“I want to see if I’ll be able to couch surf,” he said. “I’ve also been trying to make contacts, like if anyone has family members in any of those places that would let me stay on their couch. That would be awesome.”

Bar said exploring Europe gives Davies the opportunity to practice language with local citizens.

“He’s going to be in an environment where he will be able to speak with all the natives,” she said. “I’m very excited for him.”

Davies said he looks forward to absorbing knowledge about a variety of cultures.

“I measure wealth in experiences, not money,” he said. “I want to be rich in experiences, so I think it would be cool to see all those places to get the full experience.”