The gift of speaking English
Sometimes I have the opportunity to give a stranger a gift, and that gift is speaking English with that stranger.
It happened last week when I took Sterling to the dentist. I happen to know that when dentists were completing their studies at the university, they had to take a class on dental English that covers the special vocabulary and discourse of their field. So when I was at the dentist with Sterling, we spoke English instead of Finnish. The dentist was so happy to use all the English she'd learned in her class at the university years ago. She thanked me for giving her the opportunity to use it and said she doesn't get the chance to do so very often.
The best part is that these opportunities come in just the right situations for me. I, for example, have never taken a class on dental Finnish (weird, I know), so I can't really talk about my son's dental health beyond "brush teeth" and "cavity" and "toothpaste." So it's a win-win: the dentist gets to practice her specialized English, and I get to feel good about it.
The flip side of this is true as well: Finns, on a regular basis, give me the gift of speaking Finnish with me. It takes patience and understanding and a compassionate ear, so I do consider it a gift.
Most of the time, I have people working hard to speak Finnish with me, so it's nice to give back once in a while!