Do you think of Spanish as a "foreign" language? Reconsider. It was the first spoken European language in the Americas, preceding English across most of the South, Midwest and West of the United States. Hundreds of cities and many states bear the imprint of Hispanic culture in their very names as well as their populations, from Florida to Montana and Colorado, from Miami to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Spanish is the first language of more than 30 million U.S. residents — making the United States the world’s third most populous Hispanic nation after Mexico and Spain.
But in many ways the importance of Hispanic studies runs far deeper. We live in an increasingly bilingual culture as well as in a world where communication and understanding across geographical and ethnic lines have become essential. To more fully appreciate another culture is also to more clearly see one's own. In this sense, the Hispanic studies program represents Hamilton's most enduring liberal arts tradition — to reach beyond the limits of one's own experience and build bridges to the world.