A Table for Two - Nikki's Blog_0A mom of two wild preschool-aged boys, I knew that a dinner date with my five year old son Grady could be interesting. Our latest date, however, was more educational than I had anticipated.

You see, Grady is obsessed with maps. And learning.

Our latest date was at a local Italian restaurant, and Grady requested to dine al fresco. In between lessons on how to drink from a fancy water glass and how to fold a cloth napkin over his lap, Grady casually explained to me that we speak English in our family.

As an Interpreter Affairs Manager for Vocalink, this sounded like a great topic for discussion. “You’re right,” I said. “Did you know that Mommy knows people who speak a lot of different languages?”

Grady loved that. “How many languages do you know about, Mom?”

We ended up making a list of languages. Grady practiced his writing by marking down the first letter of each language I named. Sixteen languages later, he was impressed. What was even cooler was hearing him recite some of the names back to me.

A mom in my mid-thirties, I realized just how much more global our world is becoming. Grady’s classmates and the world he interacts with will be so much more colorful than my own childhood, and that’s really exciting.

Globalization will impact Grady as an adult as well, and I can only imagine what learning a second language would do to improve his future employability. Welcome Dayton, an initiative supporting immigrant-friendly practices in Dayton, OH, recently shared that the size of the foreign-born workforce in the City of Dayton increased by 23.2% between 2007 and 2012. Immigrants are also two times as likely to be entrepreneurs as native-born Daytonians. Who are these people? These are Grady’s future coworkers and employers, and he needs to be ready to work well with each amazing person he encounters.

Learning to appreciate the beautiful differences in culture and language we all share comes from a lifetime of studying. Today, we’ll keep the lessons simple for Grady. A little spaghetti and a lesson in languages ranging from Kinyarwanda to Russian seems like as good a starting point as any.