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Astrid Gonzalez-Parrilla


Social Identity and Language

There are several publications and studies that propose the interrelation between social identity and language.  Some theories have established that social identity and ethnicity are established and maintain through language.

Considering that spoken language is the primary mode that is used to communicate our needs and emotions, it is then easy to say that it has a significant impact on our personal and social identity.  English is my second language, and acquiring vocabulary was my main goal when I move to the United States.  I remember how comforting it was every time I heard someone speaking in Spanish, and my social network was composed primarily of people that were fluent in Spanish. As I gain confidence, and became fluent in English my social network expanded; English was no longer just a “business language”, it became my primary mode of communication and part of my personal and social identity.

Being bilingual has served me well.  I have been able to be a voice for those who are unable to express their needs and I have been able to help others navigate the healthcare system when they were unable. Since it may take me a longer time to understand the different vernaculars and accents, I have developed the ability to listen with intent, and pay attention to the nonverbal communication.  This has contributed significantly to making emotional connections with my staff, colleagues and most important with our patients.  I have embraced the power that language has in defining who I am, socially and personally.  One of my favorites quotes is from Nancie O’Neill;  “when different talents and ideas rub up against each other, there is friction; yes, but also spark, fire, light, and eventually-brilliance”.  It is my aspiration to be the spark that can ignite the courage and conviction needed to be an inclusive healthcare executive in the context of cultural diversity.