Trilingual Mozart, Travel Kid Expert, Speaks at GEC about World Education

December 23, 2013

Trilingual Mozart, Travel Kid Expert, Speaks at GEC about World Education ( at Petra)

Don't miss this most well-traveled kid, 13 year old Mozart's speech as the youngest presenter at the 4th annual Global Education Conference, for educators and innovators from around the world with over 13,000 participants. As a linguist, entrepreneur, student, teacher, musician, songwriter, singer and world traveler for 8 plus years, she has a unique perspective on world education and being a global citizen.

Thanks to all who joined us on the "live" world wide conference on November 21st and here is a Youtube video of her inspiring speech ( a longer version with intro and Q&A can be found on the GEC site called,"13 year old Trilingual Pioneer in Global Education - World as Classroom- LITERALLY"):


( Continued from Kid World Citizen Global Education Speech part one )

As John Gatto says, "You either learn your way towards writing your own script in life, or you unwittingly become an actor in someone else's script."


I hope to demonstrate HOW and WHY a global education is a benefit for children, families and our planet. It is a critical 21st century issue on so many levels.

Global education for 21st century kids

Sir Ken Robinson says :

"Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die."

And Mr. Rogers says: " We want to raise our children so they can get a sense of pleasure in both their own heritage and the diversity of others...."

American girl fluent in Mandarin


 I know first hand, that one can not know a culture without knowing the language. In order to be a global citizen and build greater trust and understanding between the diverse people of our world, being truly fluent in more than one language is essential.

 Thus, I think we all need to learn at least a second dominant language and that is easiest done starting as early as possible. MIT Linguist Pinker says it best, "”One free lunch in the world is to learn another language in early childhood.”.

Luckily my monolingual parents started teaching me my Chinese and Spanish when I was in the womb as my mother had read that inutero babies start learning languages at only 3 months gestation when hearing develops. I enjoyed it so much that i use to do "happy kicks" on my mom's belly whenever I heard Spanish or Chinese,  as some how even then I knew it was different.

language learning begins in pregnancy

We have a funny family story where my parents actually used my "happy kicks" on hearing Spanish to get me to move during my first ultra sound photo session when my mom was pregnant because I was in a position that covered my gender and my parents wanted to know. They decided to try the Spanish story, (  "Tres ohos" ) to see if I would respond. Sure enough, I gave them "happy kicks" which changed my position and let them know that I was a girl!

As Dr. Steiner M.D. says "Babies are wired for language. The earlier they're introduced to a second language, the easier it will be for them to pick it up. When these children get to school age, they tend to have superior reading and writing skills in both languages, as well as better analytical and academic skills"


We  think it would be great if everyone had  2nd  language immersion classes for pregnant mothers and every preschool should have assistants who are native speakers of another dominant language. then carry that out all through elementary school. This would be fairly easy to do with Spanish in the USA and French in Canada helping kids be better prepared for our multilingual, multicultural world.

Despite having monolingual parents and spending my first five years in a very blue-eyed, blond kind of California beach town, I was already fluent in Spanish before we even traveled to Spain or outside of the USA, so the options are really open to all if you look and make it a priority.

A montessori preschool that I went to hired ONLY native speaking Spanish speakers as assistance and they only spoke to the kids in Spanish, while the primary teacher spoke in English. The monolingual parents were absolutely amazed at how easily their toddlers were becoming fluent in Spanish just by hearing it and the smart ones continued to promote is as we did by hiring only Spanish speaking babysitters and other ways.

Language immersion starts young with native speakers

 From the time I was born my parents took me to a Spanish only play group that had  all native speaking Latino immigrants from various countries who wanted to raise their children as bilinguals and not lose the hearitage language.  Socially that was very isolating for my mom because her Spanish is almost non-existant despite being an A student in Spanish all through high school, but she felt it was worth the sacrifice to do what ever it took to create a 2nd langauge immersion environment for me,even while in the USA.

We  found a Spanish-only-speaking church and Sunday school for native speakers, so my dad drove me over an hour each way  every Sunday, so that I could be immersed in that Spanish environment. One of my first words as a baby was "Bibliotecha" because my dad always took me to the library for Spanish reading time. At the end of the presentation, I will link to a Youtube video that shows me learning Spanish at 4 days old, doing great at 18 months, reading well in Spanish at 7 in Spain and today.


We think travel is an essential part of becoming a global citizen and global learner, but much of it can begin at home without any travel and on a low budget. Here are things my parents did to create a 2nd language immersion environment at home:

• One parent only talking in the other language

• Playing music in the other language

• Reading books aloud  in the other language

• Watching TV/movies  in the other language

• Playing tapes of the  parent who speaks the language when they are away

• Making sure the child  always responds back, not just understanding

• Helping the child know how to respond if needed

• Reading and writing daily when the child is old enough

• Have friends talk to her only in the other language

learning a second language as a baby, daddy reading in Spanish to his baby

Even though my father's Spanish is not fluent, he still managed to do the "one parent in the 2nd language" method up until I was 2 1/2 and we supplemented that with as many native speakers and environments that we could find. At that point I was more verbal than he could keep up with in Spanish, so it was getting in the way of our relationship, thus he had to go back to mostly English.

Also around that time, my parents had to drop the Chinese. I was getting fluent at that point in Mandarin as well, but it was too difficult time-wise to do the work required. It will be a lot easier for me to pass on both  Spanish and Chinese on to my children and hopefully,  them passing it on for many generations.

little blond American girl learning flamenco in Spain - Latina roots


I am a Latina, so I am especially grateful to have my heritage language be so much a part of me and I am grateful that my parents worked hard to give it to me. Spanish and Spain are part of me... as much as English and being an American. My paternal grandparent's first language is Spanish and all that they spoke until they entered school, but it wasn't the custom in the 50's to pass it on, so fluency was lost for my father and his sister.

little blonde Latina American child in Spain

My great grandmother was the beloved  matriach of the extended family and would only speak Spanish, so my dad picked up some and has studied it to increase, but it is sad that he missed out on the comfort I have with the language. We are happy that, through me, it doesn't have to be lost any more and can continue in our family line forever.

My family playing at the oldest bullring in Spain

One of the highlights of our world trip was when my paternal Grandfather came to visit us on his 80th birthday with my aunt and it was their first time visiting Spain.  My grandpa would never talk to me in Spanish in America, but in our little village in Spain,  EVERYONE only talked Spanish, so he easily lapsed back into his Spanish. That was so fun! My grandpa has passed on now, but that memory lives with me forever.

Grandma and Mozart interviewed on Chinese TV

Another highlight for me was when my perky 83 year old maternal Grandmother came to stay with us in Asia for 6 weeks and celebrated Chinese New Year with us. We even got interviewed on Chinese TV dressed in our traditional dresses or qípáo .. which was a first for her!

My Chinese also means a lot to me and it was wonderful to travel to China the first time and be fluent in the language. Caucasians are rare in China, even in  Beijing and Caucasians  speaking,reading and writing fluently in Mandarin are even more rare, so it was extraordinary and delightful to see the reactions of the local folks when I could converse with them.They would smile and laugh so much, so I got a big kick  out of it too. I am pretty good at bargaining from markets around the world, so it was REALLY funny to surprise the sellers there by both my Chinese and good bartering skills.

American girl speaking Chinese in China gets lots of smiles

I met so many people who had never even seen a Caucasian before so were thrilled to be able to communicate. When I went to school in China, one of my favorites was a 15 month old baby that I saw every day. At first he was very frightened of me as he, like the rest,  had never seen a Caucasian or someone with "yellow" hair, but soon we became best buddies. I loooove babies and had so much fun being a big sister or Dà jiě jie 大姐姐.

American girl, Chinese baby with globe in China

 To me,  that says everything about the advantage of language learning to foster world peace and understanding, .......taking us past fear, into what we have in common.


One of the great advantages of doing world travel as a young child is how easy it is to  see how good- hearted people are everywhere, no matter what language, what religion, what color or ethnicity or what country or continent! Studies showed that children exposed to diversity in positive ways while young have less prejudices.

American girl meeting friendly people all over China thanks to her Mandarin fluency

Nobody can speak every language, but even having one more helps and we always learn a few words for each country. It is always really appreciated because all people are proud of their language, country and heritage.You'd be surprised how just knowing how to say "hello", "good bye", "How much does that cost" and "thank you" can take you and help one connect. The more language you have, the easier and deeper the connection.

Mozart at 6 playing violin for kids as a service project in Morocco's Sahara desert

Being the only Caucasian in a large Chinese school in Asia,  being the only one without a hijab on my head in an Islamic country, being the only blond and Caucasian in sight in Africa, seeing abject poverty, doing service projects, being the only Caucasian on a packed plane or bus, etc ...these are all VERY different experience than being one of the majority in the USA.

I think these experiences have given me a valuable perspective that one only can get by doing. It helps you see people differently and have greater compassion and understanding of minority struggles.

Mozart as only Caucasian in a Chinese school

We just got back from Australia and it was fascinating to once again be in a country where my race was the majority, after having spent so much time in Asia, where although it is  very multicultural,  it is much more rare to see a Caucasian face in the crowd. I am grateful I got this deep understanding first hand as a child to understand the first world, but also the developing and third world and the diverse humanity on earth.

Young American girl, Mozart, attending Chinese school


My parents always say about tech, "use it as a tool and don't let the tool use you" and I think tech is one of the greatest things today, but also something my generation must be wise about because it can be addictive. Some say, the greatest luxury today is being unplugged and we are big believers in spending lots of time in nature. One of the great pleasures of RV camping in Europe for extended times is we get to have breakfast, lunch and dinner outside under the trees because most of our living is outdoors.  I miss that when I am living in a house.

Camping in Europe in an RV- right on the water in Sweden

 Tech today makes many things easier, and we could not do our world tour and lifestyle without it. BUT there are also many benefits of being unplugged and experiencing the REAL world first hand and connecting deeply in person in the local language. We don't own a smart phone and travel the world mostly by foot, bikes or mass transit because one can learn a lot from the ground level and the slow, natural rhythms of life.

Mozart sailing in Hawaii


 Just using transportation around the world can be an education in itself from my riding camels on 3 continents to cargo ships ( which I love!) or sailboats, trains, planes and learning the subway system in Beijing, London, Paris, New York, Budapest, Singapore etc. I have driven on some wild roads in Bhutan, Montenegro, Turkey and Santorini and biked vineyards, canoed down rivers and cruised Norway's fjords. I had never even ridden on a bus before we left our California home, but now I am comfortable in every mode of transportation and in ANY country.


The every day educational opportunities on a world trip have been pretty mind-blowing because travel is an awesome way to learn. You might like my video I did myself about a day-in-my-life when I was in Bora Bora at 10 where we couched surfed with a cool French woman who was a vet and I got to swim with sharks, feed huge turtles and all kinds of fantastic things. It was pure bliss!

Travel kid Mozart feeding turtles in Bora Bora


This has been some of MY primary school educational gems:

* A camel overnight trek deep in the Sahara at 6 and service project feeding and playing violin to Berber kids there
* Learning archaeology and Greek/Roman myths in Pompeii, Ephesus, Troy, Petra, Delphi, Knossos and more
* Climbing to the famous Tigers's Nest Monestery in Bhutan at 10
* Swimming with dolphins with marine biologist in Portugal at 8 and the Florida Keys at 11
* Seeing Shakespeare at the Globe Theater in London
* Celebrating Chinese New Year at lit up Temples in Asia
* Sailing the Turquoise coast in Turkey and sleeping in a cave in Cappadocia
* Participating in Semana Santa in Seville at Easter
* Eating reindeer meat in a traditional Kota in Sweden with dear friends
*Learning to surf in the north shore of Kauai in Hawaii
* Seeing world class operas in Verona's ancient amphitheatre with Placido Domingo and Franco Zefferelli
* Dissecting squid in Sausolito at a Johns Hopkins Univercity  CTY workshop
* Riding a camel at Petra Jordan at 10 and at the Great Wall in China at 12
* Starring in a Japanese TV show on ABC that was filmed in Rovinj,  Croatia
*Seeing a ballet in Sydney's Opera House at 10 and learning the didgeridoo recently
* Learning Flamenco in Spain at 6 , Tahitian dance in Morrea at 10, hiphop in California at 11
* Being a finalist in a singing contest in Mandarin at my 1000 kid Chinese High school in Asia and winning the Chinese and English elocution contests there at 10 and 12.
* Singing in Mandarin at a big Chinese wedding in Asia
* Learning to fly where Harry Potter did at Hogwarts ( that is Alnwick Castle)  in Northumberland, UK at 7 and visiting Harry Potters World in Florida at 11


I don't think you have to wait until University level, or high school level to learn from travel. I was five when we started our world trip and I remember most of it and all of the significant things and people. My mom always found me great books that helped me learn more about our travels.

Once when we did a museum tour at the Abbey in Melke, the tour guide was shocked that I knew so much about Austrian history. That is because I love historical fiction and happen to learn a lot from them just by escaping into a good book as reading is one of my biggest passions. My princess diary book about Marie Antoinette just happened to have lots of details Austrian and French history. 

Books and travel are great combo, even for little kids and there is a hardly a book or film I find today that doesn't cover or take place in a part of the world that I know well. That always makes me happy and brings back memories.

Travel kid Mozart reading Harry Potter book in Cambridge, UK.

All travel is good and a great way to learn without even realizing it. Vacations, school trips, study abroad programs are valuable, but they can also be expensive and I don't think as enriching as deep immersive slow travel. I hope our example, encourages others to know that extended world travel is possible for almost ANY ordinary family and so worth the effort. We think it is the best possible education in the world and the best way for a family to live and raise a child. I am already planning my own round the world trip with my best friend in Barcelona after we finish University and will travel with my future kids.

Studies show that extended travel and learning languages through immersion increases creativity and we need that in today's world. We need to deeply understand other people that share our planet.... their history, culture, art, literature, music, and religions. We need to spend time in their shoes to have greater compassion and understanding of their points of view. We all need to see how gorgeous our planet is and how special and important each human being is.

We are the world! Mozart making friends around the world

Then  when you see a Typhoon disaster in the Phllipines or Nuclear disaster in Japan or earthquake in Haiti ,New Zealand or Chile, or famine in Africa, wars in the Middle East  or  pollution in Beijing etc, etc..... it is NOT about strangers far away, but our beloved family suffering that we MUST find ways to help.

World travel is the best answer for a global education and using this planet as our classroom AND today that is available to most everyone! In the near future more and more kids will have primary years like mine! Are you ready to start planning your world trip? Here is a little inspiration...our first video that covers our first 18 months of travel:

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