The Ambassador of Costa Rica, José Enrique Castillo Barrantes, visited Queen Mary University of London on Thursday 17 May to deliver a speech on the importance of languages in diplomatic professions.
The event, which was hosted by Queen Mary’s School of Languages Linguistics and Film, was attended by language students at Queen Mary and secondary school students from four partner schools.
“Language is accessing another world”
Professor Colin Grant, Vice-Principal (International) at Queen Mary, introduced the afternoon with a talk that focused on why language has proved “fundamental” for his career. He said: “Language is accessing another world, another reality, another society, another culture and another set of beliefs and being able to translate across different beliefs and values is an incredible asset to any career.”
He encouraged listeners to: “Keep that open spirit, do learn languages, it will translate in a metaphorical and literal sense across cultures and set you in a very good stance to be citizens and leaders of the world.”
Mr Barrantes’ speech highlighted the importance of languages in culture, business and politics, and he urged the secondary school pupils to continue with their language learning. He also spoke about his background and outlined possible career paths for the Queen Mary languages students. He explained: “Wherever you go, language is the key to understanding that country and its culture; it is the tool to express that culture”. He warned that if you don’t understand a language or culture you may feel blocked.