This is a familiar story for many of you: a Korean boy falls in love with a non-Korean girl. The boy’s parents only speak Korean, no English. The boy tells his parents about the girl. The parents adamantly declare that he cannot marry this girl, as they have no way to communicate with her or her family. Girl tries hard to learn Korean to speak to his parents, yet they are firm in their disapproval of the relationship. After months of tension, painful conversations, and tears, the couple decides to break up because of the parents.
Now consider, this story. My friend Vini is Brazilian. His parents speak little English. He falls in love with Christina, an American with roots in Europe and Central Asia, who speaks no Portuguese (but has been learning).
His parents stayed at our apartment for a month before the wedding. One night, I come back home to find his parents busy looking over an English book. His father, Josias, tells me that they are busy studying English to speak with Christina’s family, her friends, and to their eventual grandchildren. Josias says “We want to be able to communicate to Christina’s family, because we love Christina.”
I know there are cultural differences between Korea and Brazil, and everyone has their own concerns and reasons. However, it really is touching to see parents put forth an effort to learn another language for their future daughter-in-law, instead of outright opposing the union because they cannot or will not put in the effort to learn another language.
I’m thankful that my parents are like Vini’s. We’ll see if that comes into play.