I remember the excitement of my first day in a French school, where no one spoke the same language as me. Becoming fluent within one year was perhaps when my fascination for languages began, as my knowledge in French assisted me in speedily grasping the basics of the Spanish language, given the many linguistic similarities between the two.
For the past five years, I have travelled with my school to Salamanca. These annual trips not only kindled my love for Spain and its rich culture but most importantly, my eagerness to pursue the language. Similarly, travelling to the Yucatan Peninsula and being able to recognise the subtle variations between Mexican and Iberian Spanish, such as vocabulary and accent, was extremely rewarding when conversing with the locals.
In my personal exploration of Spanish literature, I found myself being drawn into the magical realism of "Sólo Vine a Hablar Por Teléfono" by Gabriel García Márquez. I was conflicted by the empathy that Maria's unjust confinement evoked as the intense narrative made me question her sanity, and how the borders of madness can be crossed by us all. This distinction between reality and illusion is also a recurring theme in Calderón de la Barca's play "La Vida es Sueño". I was particularly fascinated by how Calderon wove parallels from Spanish history into his own story, where Segismundo, during his incarceration in the tower and his short time as King, could have been a symbolic emulation of both King Philip II's sons. In addition, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Garcia Lorca's "Rural Tragedies", my favourite being "Yerma". I was intrigued by how Yerma's sorrow strongly reflected Lorca's own tragic and closeted personal life. To learn more about the historical context behind his work, I chose to direct the play for an IB Theatre project, in which I explored how Spain's societal rigidity and confining principles for women eventually drove Yerma to insanity.
My desire to learn more about language and linguistics propelled me to establish a 'Foreign Languages Society' at my international school - a hub for lingual diversity. This society enables both students and teachers to explore and discuss interesting topics around a variety of languages, such as the click consonants in Xhosa, and how the 'mother tongue movement' in Taiwan inaugurated radical changes for the preservation of Hokkien. This society inspired me to explore Italian as a fourth language given its proximity to Spanish and French.
I have frequently visited Turkey and was struck by the distinct morphology of its language, its logically agglutinative nature and the volume of loanwords from French and other languages. That a phrase or sentence in Turkish can be constructed from a single root with multiple suffixes seemed incongruous, yet remarkable, given my experiences with the Romance languages.
Reading George Bernard Shaw's prominent work on the power of language, "Pygmalion", further expanded my curiosity in linguistics. Shaw’s exploration of language and identity through Eliza’s phonetic metamorphosis was a daring critique of the Victorian era - most importantly highlighting the fact that the way we speak is not always what defines us as individuals.
Alongside my academic pursuits, I am a keen musician and actor. I have been playing the piano for over 10 years and am a member of the American Conservatory of Paris. I have a passion for singing and writing music - compositions of which I have had the opportunity to perform at the local Town Hall. In addition, I have taken part in many charity activities, including bi-annually volunteering in an orphanage for disabled children in Sri Lanka and successfully climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for paediatric brain cancer. My travels have been invaluable in providing me with insights into the Hispanic world, and I look forward to advancing my Spanish, discovering more of its compelling literature, and further exploring the science and art of language at University.