APU Everyday Scholar Online Learning Podcast

The Global Impact of Spanish and Spanish-Speaking Cultures

Podcast by Dr. Bjorn Mercer, DMA, Department Chair, Communication and World Languages and
Carolina Ghanem-Cameron, Faculty Member, Spanish

There are more than 500 million Spanish speakers in the world. In this episode, APU’s Dr. Bjorn Mercer talks to faculty member Carolina Ghanem-Cameron about how the world is evolving and the Spanish language and culture are constantly evolving along with it.

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Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Hello. My name is Dr. Bjorn Mercer and today we’re talking to Carolina Ghanem-Cameron, Spanish faculty in the School of Arts, Humanities, and Education. And today, our conversation is about the globalization of Spanish and Spanish speaking culture. Welcome, Carolina.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Hi, Bjorn. It’s great to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me to do this.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Excellent. No, this is great. Spanish is an important language. The second most important language, I guess you can say, in the U.S., and it’s been growing ever since. And so, having these conversations about Spanish, the culture and cultures, I should say, associated with Spanish speaking people, because it’s not a monolith, is extraordinarily important. And so, my first question is how many countries is Spanish spoken? And how many people speak it?

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Well, officially there are 21 countries that speak Spanish currently. And out of that, 572 million speakers of Spanish right now in the world. And it grows very quickly. I mean, it’s one of these numbers that keeps growing. But yeah, it’s definitely a big number. And it’s mostly in Latin America, you have a lot of Spanish speakers. But then in other colonies that were former colonies with Spain in different parts of the world, you also have some Spanish speakers, even in Africa and Equatorial Guinea. Yeah, I think it’s Equatorial Guinea that speaks also Spanish. So, it’s kind of interesting. There’s still continuing with language even after it’s no longer a colony of Spain.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Yeah, it is weird to think that so many people speak Spanish because of Spain.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Right.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: That one little… well, that’s not even little. That one large European country that hundreds of years ago colonized a good portion of the Americas. And so today, if you know Spanish, you can go from the southern tip of Argentina up to the northern tip of Canada and be able to communicate, which is so wonderful. And then also, if you throw on the Philippines.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Exactly.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: A large chunk of the Philippines speaks Spanish. And then, yeah, there is that one African country that predominantly speaks Spanish. Yeah, I didn’t know that. It’s one of those trivia things that, I think, over here we learn. Because like, “Oh my gosh. They speak Spanish.” And that leads us to the next question. So, for that number, how many Spanish speakers are here in the US?

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: As of now, there’s 41 million Spanish speakers in the U.S., and that number’s also growing at this point. It’s incredible because just a few years ago, it was maybe 35. Now it’s 41, and they’re kind of spread all over the United States at this point. I think before, you could have said that they were more maybe in New York and California and Texas, Florida. But I’m in Georgia. And I mean, you have a lot of native or heritage speakers of Spanish living in Georgia. So, it’s incredible the amount of Spanish speakers there are.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: So, just to inform people, what does it mean versus native versus heritage?

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Of course. Good question. So, a native speaker is typically a person that has actually learned the language in school in a Spanish speaking country or is considered native in that sense. A heritage speaker, typically, is a speaker or a person that has learned it from, maybe not so much in school, but just from speaking to their family. They’re usually first- or second-generation immigrants from a Spanish speaking country. Typically, it’s considered more something that happens in the U.S. where maybe their parents came, and then their children are called heritage speakers because they didn’t really directly learn Spanish at school in their home countries, but they learned it from their family here in the U.S.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Thank you. And so, I could then surmise that you would be a native speaker because you were born in Spain. And then, you probably learned Spanish up until the time you moved over here.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Right. I was in school till, I think, seventh grade I started here in the U.S. We moved when I was maybe 11 or so. So yeah, I basically had my first year’s primary school, which is what they call it in Spain, or elementary school here. I was basically taught in Spanish. So, in reality, English is my second language, even though now, I feel like I’m fully bilingual. So, it’s kind of interesting because we came at such an age that I was able to accomplish that.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: It sounds like that’s a perfect time, too, to do that.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Oh, I know. Of course. Of course.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: By age 10 or 11, by 10, kids have a really good handle on their first language. And then, adding a second language at age… Their minds are so elastic. It’s perfect.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: They are. Definitely.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: I grew up in El Paso, Texas, right on the border beside San Diego, the largest city on the border with Mexico. And I knew a ton of people who were heritage speakers because they were born in the U.S. Maybe even their parents were born in the U.S., and so they knew a good deal of Spanish. But then also sometimes, I knew people who were Hispanic origin, but then they didn’t know Spanish just because sometimes that happens. I mean, I could say today, I don’t know Finnish because, I don’t know, a hundred some years ago, a bunch of people from Finland decided to come over to the United States. Although I did have some cousins and some aunts and uncles who still spoke Finnish, but-

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Really, wow.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer:…my part of the family, we don’t.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: That’s very interesting. My husband’s family is from Finland, too. So, his mom is Finnish.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Yeah. It’s a great country over there. Yeah. And so, I think that’s always important to know. Or I would say if you went from Spain to Mexico, you’d speak Spanish. But then, it would be a different approach or different accent.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: It’s only really an accent that… It’s like phonetically everything, the language, is pretty much the same. We just have basically different words for different things. Some things that we say in Spain, perhaps for them it’s more of a vulgar word. So, you have to watch out sometimes with certain words. But generally speaking, we understand each other perfectly, and it’s really about the accent. And a funny thing about that is that, in southern Spain, you have accents that are more similar to people in Latin America, which probably is because a lot of the people that went with the colonizers or the colonies, a lot of them were from southern Spain. So perhaps, that’s why their accent carried over, that southern Spanish accent, from Spain. So yeah, that’s interesting.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: No, it is interesting because what you said, also, was you’ll have heritage speakers in the U.S. more specifically because, yeah, if you go from Spain to Mexico or Spain to Venezuela or Spain to Argentina, you’re still going from a Spanish speaking country to a Spanish speaking country.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Exactly.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: And it’s here in the U.S. where you go from a Spanish speaking country to an English-speaking country where it is a different language. And so, in a lot of the Spanish speaking world, it’s all different accents. And for English speakers, if you hear an English accent. So, more of like the Queen’s English.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Right.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Something you’ll hear on PBS. Oh, is that fancy English? But then, in England, and not even just going from Wales to Scotland to Ireland, which are different accents. I mean, there’s different accents in England just from city to city. Same thing in the Spanish speaking world. You’ll have a different accent from country to country, and then within countries, like you said, between the northern and southern part of Spain.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Exactly. And in Spain, you also have officially four languages. So, if you go to my home city in Valencia, you will have people basically having a little bit of an accent in Spanish because of the influence of Valenciana, which is the regional language on Spanish. And sometimes certain words are even… You say certain words differently like carrota, which is the word for carrot in Valencia. But generally speaking, in Spanish, it’s called zanahoria. So, it’s a totally different word. So, it’s interesting the variations that happen within a small country like Spain.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: It makes me think of Wales and England. Wales has a different language, technically.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Exactly.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Although maybe sometimes, it’s hard to understand Scottish people, it’s still English. But it’s a different accent. And so, people listening to us, we have accents for other people. It just depends on where you are in your perspective. I’d say our accent is very standard American accent at this point. If you listen to us, it doesn’t sound like we come from any specific region. And for me, growing up in Texas, I did not have a more East Texas accent. I think also growing up in a city and in El Paso, which is as far from Texas as you can probably get, it’s easier to have that more standard American accent if you grow up in a city.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Right, exactly.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Excellent. So, this leads us to the next question is, what is making Spanish become so popular as a second most spoken language here in the U.S.?

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Well, I think it’s two parts. You have, obviously, a very large Hispanic population, and that Hispanic population that comes to the U.S. doesn’t necessarily just become a part of… I mean, they’re American, perhaps. But they integrate, but they still keep their culture. They still keep their traditions. They still keep their language. They still keep basically their food, their sense of family, like their togetherness. And they’re not fully integrated into the American culture in a sense. So basically, that contributes to making a lot of people be interested in what it is that they have that makes them different. So, a lot of music. A few years ago, there was a song that was so popular, I think it was Enrique Iglesias that was singing it. That everybody, what is it? Bailando? Everybody was singing the song. I mean, on the radio they started playing it in Spanish, even. So, I think through that, the language has grown, and people are becoming more interested just because of the culture. I mean, the cultural connections are making people more interested in learning the language. I think that’s why it was happening, especially in the U.S.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Especially in the U.S. And as somebody born in the U.S., grew up in El Paso, again, right on the border, I should have learned Spanish. But the funny thing about the U.S. is that English is so pervasive that you don’t need to know another language versus if you’re born in Spain, it would help to learn French.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Right.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: And English.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Or Portuguese.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Yeah. Or Portuguese. Yeah, right there. Or Italian, or German, depending on where you want to go in Europe just because, in an hour, you’re outside of your country, and it’s a switch to a completely different language. Unless you’re, like, I’m in Arizona where if you drive south an an hour, then you’re in Mexico. In most of the U.S., you’re just always around English speakers. And if you go up north to Canada, again, more English speakers. But because of these demographic shifts, obviously Spanish is becoming more important. And in my own, the way I look at it in my lifetime, the language I should learn is Spanish. And it’s not to say that English isn’t important because it is. I mean, English will most likely be the official language.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Of course.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Who knows, maybe forever, for a very long time. But even if it doesn’t become the official, it’ll be shared with Spanish.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Yeah, I think so. I think so. I think it’s already considered the second most spoken language in the U.S. anyway. And most people, even around the world, I was reading some things about this. And it said that most people, even in Europe, the language they choose to learn as a second language is, a lot of times, Spanish. Even in Brazil, people wanted to learn Spanish. I mean, I guess all their neighbors speak Spanish, so they figured, “We might as well.” And it has some similarities to Portuguese. So, that’s interesting. Really interesting to me.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Yeah. And if you are an English speaker, say a native English speaker, honestly the best language to learn is Spanish. Because then you can go up and down all the Americas. Except Brazil, which you have to learn Portuguese. And then, you can go into Europe. And with both English and Spanish, you could probably get around a good portion of Europe.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Yeah, definitely. I think so.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Yeah. Excellent. And so, the next question is, how do you feel about Spanglish?

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: I don’t like it. I know that it’s something that just naturally happens. I mean, I’m guilty of also having used Spanglish before, but I try to avoid it as much as possible, honestly. But it’s difficult, especially as a teacher of language. It’s difficult to see the language being butchered or being combined with another language. So, it really bothers me. One thing I heard a few years back on TV. Somebody calling their wife their wifa. And I’m like, “What? Is that a new word?” But I guess. And then, they were speaking in Spanish, and they were saying, “Me wifa.” My wife. Seriously? You just took an English word and made it into Spanish, and now it’s become Spanglish.

I mean, you understand it because it’s easy to understand it, especially if you speak English. But at the same time, what is it? It’s becoming a different language that’s not really one thing or another. Either speak Spanish, speak English, or I would even prefer for people to use some specific terms in Spanish that are adopted directly from English and use them in English into Spanish because a lot of those words have been adopted into Spanish, like technology words and medical terms and stuff that just basically everyone shares the same term. I’d rather have that than have Spanglish. I’m a little bit of a purist when it comes to the language.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Yeah. And I agree. I agree. I think, as academics, we like precise language versus vernacular. Again, there’s nothing wrong with vernacular if there’s a certain style of a language you speak. Again, that’s totally fine. However, academics always like to be precise because we always like to clearly communicate as much as possible. And there’s nothing more complicated, honestly, than communication. And then, you throw in a second language and it’s even harder. But even in English, people oftentimes use terms, individual terms, incorrectly because either they learn it incorrectly, or they just think that’s the way it is. And when you actually look at the old-fashioned dictionary, which honestly everybody should do, you start communicating clearly. And then, if you throw in vernacular or Spanglish, it’s that much harder. Again, if people want to do it, great. But when it comes to clear communication, the stodgy rules, they are helpful because then, whoever you’re talking to will understand you.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Exactly. But even the Royal Academy of Spanish, which one of them is in Spain, they’re starting to adopt a lot of words that people have, basically, created. And they’re starting to adopt them because they see that so many people use them that they said, “Okay, we might as well just add them to the dictionary. It’s going to become a word.” Bitcoin has become an official Spanish word. Bot has become a Spanish word. There’s just so many little terms that are becoming Spanish where it’s just because they see so many people that are native speakers just using them in everyday speech. They have to keep evolving. I mean, the language evolves.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Yeah. I’m assuming a similarity here in the southwest for sandstorms. We use the word “haboob.”

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Oh, really? Wow. Interesting.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Yeah, so I mean, we have probably a dozen haboobs every year.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Oh wow.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Huge sandstorms that come through. And my kids and I run outside, and we watch it overtake us, and-

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Wow.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer:…the sky turns dark. But I actually need to look at the history of it because I think we started using that term here after the two Iraq wars, because it’s more of, I think, a Middle Eastern term. In Middle East, obviously, it’s very big. So, I’m apologize for not being more specific.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Interesting.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: But no. On the news, they’ll say haboobs or dust storm. They use them interchangeably. And so, that’s a very small way in which language changes. And I remember talking to someone who is not in the southwest, and they’re like, “Well, what do you call haboobs?” “Dust storms.” I’m like, “Oh yeah, they are dust storms. We call them haboobs here.”

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: That’s interesting.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Yeah. And that’s the thing, as we all age, we do observe that language does change and terms that, sometimes, that were a little more vernacular become more official. And that’s just how it goes.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Exactly.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: And so, this leads us to the next question is, what about words in English being used to replace Spanish words in many fields, including medicine, technology, and others? What are the long-term negative effects of this? And are there any positives?

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: I think the positive effects of this is that everybody can share the same word worldwide. So, a lot of these words, honestly, come from English, and they’re adopted into Spanish, and they become words in Spanish. So, I think that that creates a better understanding when doctors or people that are in different fields of business are communicating with each other. They can actually communicate with people from all over the world, and everyone will understand exactly what they’re talking about. The negative effect of that, I think, would be that you’re losing, basically, that Spanish word that is probably very good, and it’s beautiful, and we have a word for whatever it is that they’ve, basically, adopted from English.

Maybe not necessarily in all words because the technology words, I think a lot of those have come directly from English. And no one has even tried to make them into a Spanish word. But for those words that we do have a Spanish word for certain words, it’s sad that they’re going to just be lost. I don’t think future generations will even know what they are. Because if the parents of this future generation don’t really say those words now, imagine in 30 years. I mean, no one’s going to know the Spanish word.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: It reminds me of when I’m… Huh. I’m talking a lot about dictionaries today. And I find archaic words that we don’t use anymore. And then, if you use it, it’s almost like you’re using a very specific term and terminology that you’re using just because you want to use it, not because people understand it. Now, being from originally Spain, how does Spain approach English words being added to the overall language? Because I know in France, they’re very specific about French words all the time. Which again, France can do whatever they want. But part of that is France also fighting the influence of English. And so, is Spain as adamant against certain English terms being added to the overall usage?

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Unfortunately, not at all. And I say unfortunately because every time I go to Spain, and I walk around the city or I walk around and see the stores, basically half of everything that’s written in the stores or in the streets, or maybe not the signs, obviously, the street signs. But mostly in the shopping centers and things like this are half English, half Spanish. I mean, it’s horrible. I remember one place in Valencia. It’s a shoe store. And that’s another thing, some of the translations are not done correctly. So, what you find is that they’re spelling things wrong in English, and you’re like, “Oh my gosh.” And even that’s one step further. I think there’s the shoe store that I was telling you about in Valencia that says, “Man floor downstairs.” Their shoes may be downstairs. But just the way they wrote it, it just sounds so strange. Man floor. I mean, am I going to find a man in the bottom floor of the store? Seriously. I mean, you don’t think shoes. But they think it’s cool. Even the kids say things always like words in English. They’re speaking Spanish. All of a sudden they throw an English word in there. It’s like, “Oh, I’m so cool. I can speak English.” So yeah, Spain is not a good example for trying to keep their language.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: So, here’s a question there. There’s some in the U.S. who will say the U.S. needs to speak English. It’s the legacy language, the culture, all these different things. And so, what’s your view on the intermingling of cultures? Now, before I go to that, I think a lot of people in the U.S. and in English speaking cultures don’t quite realize how influential English is around the world. When you speak English and you’re in the U.S., you’re just like, “Oh, we’re just the U.S.” And “Oh look, everybody likes our music.” But I mean, how many Latvian bands do we listen to? Zero. I mean, Lavia is a beautiful country. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, those three gorgeous little Baltic states. However, the U.S. and English has an outsized influence on the world. Many, many, many, many reasons why, historic reasons and current reasons. But what’s your perspective on somebody who so fluently speaks both Spanish and English on those influences and the culture’s not melding, but collaborating, if that makes sense?

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Yeah. Yeah. I just think it’s the way the world is moving. People are always moving now. They can move so easily from one country to another. There’s always a huge amount of people that are moving to the U.S., for instance. So, it’s something that’s inevitable. I mean, you’re going to have this intermingling no matter what. It’s just a matter of understanding that our world is evolving, and we can’t stay in one place. And you have to kind of accept it. I mean, there’s people that don’t want to accept the fact that other cultures are coming into the United States and bringing their own things with them, their own music, words. But I think it’s a matter of knowing that it’s something that we have to accept because it’s just the way the world is going. We can’t stop this.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Do you think that this is a general question and not an easy question to answer? Do you think Europeans, like somebody who’s from Spain and has neighbors, two specific neighbors?

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Right.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: And then, if you go out a few hundred more miles or kilometers, a dozen neighbors. Do you think Europeans have a better understanding of what it means to live in a pluralistic area where there’s many different peoples, many different languages versus the U.S. where it’s like, “Well, we have Canada.”? And oftentimes, U.S. people will think, “Oh, it’s just Canada.” And then, there’s Mexico, and that’s not to include the Caribbean. But there’s water in between all the Caribbean countries.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Of course.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Do you think there’s something that we could learn from that European perspective? And you could also throw in Africa, where there’s so many African countries and there’s just clusters of countries where they have to get along. They have to understand each other. They have to learn each other’s languages to exist. Where over here, we’re like, “We know English.”

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: I just think it’s just the geography in a sense. The United States is so big. You have, basically, the whole country speaks English. They speak the same language. They don’t feel like they need to learn another language. But they realized, a lot of people, when they travel abroad that it’s so important. Because unfortunately, you go to some countries, and they’ll say, “Oh, there comes the American.” And they’ll know because that person probably is not even trying to speak the native language or doesn’t know any other language other than English. So, yeah. And I mean, in Europe, it’s normal. Most people in school, my mom and her age, or at the time that when she was growing up, they were learning French. But now, the children in Spain are learning English. And I mean, there’s such a big movement for the parents when they’re in school to get their kids in these English classes, and they have to learn English.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: And a lot of them, when they graduate from the university or even high school, they actually speak fluently. And they know how important it is because English is, in a sense, the language of business. So, especially if they’re going and going to the university and getting a degree, and then they want to connect with the rest of the world, they know that they need English. They’ll be left behind if they don’t know English. Even if they know Spanish, which it’s spoken in so many places. But they know English is also very important. So, in a way, it’s a little bit sad that, in the U.S., it just doesn’t happen. I mean, I think a few years ago here in Georgia, they were saying that they were going to cut back the funding for the public school system for language. And I’m telling myself like, “My goodness, how can you do that? You live in the world, not just in the United States.”

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: It is, yeah. I always think of the original lingua franca, which was French. The international language for hundreds of years was French. In Europe, of course. So, we’re specifically talking about Europe and the western world here. But English has supplanted French as the lingua franca, and now it’s a common world language. Again, there’s a whole series of podcasts we could do about why that is. It just didn’t happen overnight. Many countries contributed to that. But it is one of those things where it would be nice if Americans in the U.S. would learn another language. And the most obvious one is Spanish. Such a large portion of the U.S. is now Hispanic and can speak Spanish. And just by doing that also, it opens you up to different cultures. It opens you up to different ideas. Even just the process of learning a language makes your brain take in more or just understand where things came from. Or even just, again, dictionary. We’re all about dictionaries today. Where certain words come from. Just by learning all those ideas and that information, it helps you understand the world.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Exactly. It’s fascinating. Another thing I experience a lot lately is when I watch the news. Sometimes, just because I know Spanish on the news, specifically on CNN. I don’t know why they do it on CNN and not other places. But they use words that perhaps the general population may not necessarily use or understand. Or not an everyday word, I should say, in English. And for me, just as a Spanish speaker, I immediately say, “Oh wow, I know that word.” And it’s mostly because, in Spanish, that word is a very common word. It’s an everyday word that you use in Spanish. In English, it’s a more sophisticated term. But it’s interesting how that happens, as well.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Yeah, yeah. News organizations, again, completely different series of podcasts. But whenever anybody communicates, they should use the absolute simplest version to clearly communicate. It’s tough when you have media organizations that do try to be sophisticated. And sophisticated, or I should say the desire to be sophisticated, shouldn’t trump the desire to clearly communicate with everyone.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: I agree. I agree. Because probably a lot of the population’s not catching, or understanding, what exactly it is that they’re saying.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Exactly. And it took me many years to learn that, because I always thought, “Sophistication is the way to go. Use fancy words and hoity toity stuff.” And then you realize that “Well, if I do that, only a small percentage of the population will understand. And a larger percentage will be turned off.” Because they’re like, “Well, who are you? What are you trying to do?”

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Exactly.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: And just by using clear, concise language and not using terms like wifa, it helps you communicate. Again, people can do it. But-

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: It hurts my ears.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Yeah. It’s not standard. Not yet. Who knows? Maybe in 10, 20 years it will be.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: It might be the way things are going. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Well, absolutely wonderful conversation. Any final words?

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: No. I really appreciate this opportunity to speak about my culture and, basically, just what I’ve experienced growing up here in the U.S. and being Spanish descent. So, it’s interesting what I’ve seen. And when I came to the U.S. initially, like in Georgia, they thought we were Mexican. They didn’t really realize that there’s many other countries that speak Spanish. And now, at least in Atlanta, there’s such a huge amount of people that speak Spanish. And it’s interesting just to see how things have developed in just in the U.S. over the last 25 years.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: It has. It has. And I think more people realize that there’s more to the world than just two things. The U.S. and Mexico. There’s more to the Spanish speaking world than just Mexico.

Carolina Ghanem-Cameron: Exactly.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: And oftentimes, all you have to do is just say, “Hey, where are you from?” And they’ll be like, “Oh.” Then you’ll learn, and then you act. Of course, whenever you talk to people, ask questions. And then, you just learn more about the world and the people you’re talking to. And so, absolutely wonderful conversation. Today we’re speaking with Carolina Ghanem-Cameron about the globalization of Spanish and the Spanish speaking culture. And of course, my name is Dr. Bjorn Mercer. And thank you for listening.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer is a Program Director at American Public University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Missouri State University, a master’s and doctorate in music from the University of Arizona, and an M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix. Dr. Mercer also writes children’s music in his spare time.

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