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[OP-ED] “Billenials” Are the Best Hope for Our City

The "billenials" are, by definition, hybrid creatures that share more than one culture and speak more than one language. This is becoming more commonplace in…

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The "billenials" are, by definition, hybrid creatures that share more than one culture and speak more than one language. This is becoming more commonplace in Philadelphia among the newest, youngest residents of the city.

When I was in Barcelona, only a couple weeks ago, I was exposed to a litany of languages that almost every person I met spoke. 

Some of them spoke Catalan, and some others Spanish.

But some others spoke French, English, Italian, and some others, even the ancient Arabic and Hebrew. 

For one week, I was immersed in a totally multilingual society that, being such, had the capacity to attract, to a beautiful tiny city on shores of the Mediterranean, people from all over the world.

No wonder: They were a mirror, perhaps a broken mirror, of the world that is naturally attracted to Barcelona, a former outpost and crossing point of the Roman Empire to the West, because they see themselves reflected and presented on that figurative mirror, fostering an attraction that is inevitable for anybody who has been to Barcelona, but that is so hard to explain.

I came to Philadelphia with the hope that the leadership of this city understands the value of bilingualism, and also multilingualism, and acts on it.

I came to Philadelphia with the hope that the leadership of this city understands the value of bilingualism, and also multilingualism, and acts on it.

If we start putting emphasis, and money behind, an effort to nurture them in our public school system, at the very early age of kindergarden, our city would prepare itself, in a very natural manner, to be the global city we dream about— the shining epicenter in the Eastern Seaboard of the United States in the decades to come.

Attracting not only young people from all across the United States, and all across the globe, to the cradle of the American democracy, who will be very curious to find out all about it, but also the coveted tourists from all over the world bringing badly needed economic infusion into our local economy.

Philadelphia is naturally poised to be the greatest epicenter of development in the Unites States over the next 100 years.

Also attracting investors to reap the benefits of a capital investment in a city that, with these new ingredients, is naturally poised to be the greatest epicenter of development in the Unites States over the next 100 years.

I was pleased to see on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer this weekend a report on the outburst of high-end housing projects in downtown Philadelphia, fueled by capital coming from places as far as San Francisco or Chicago.

The trend is obviously off to a good start. 

Under Mayor Jim Kenney’s leadership, who I believe, understands the value of diversity better than all his predecessors, the city has its chance for real progress— more so than we’ve ever had in decades. 

 

 

This a TEDx Talk from the University of Chicago with a more academic discussion on the subject matter of this column by our editor and publisher.

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