“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

“I want to beat up everyone who speaks English!”

As a 3-year-old freshly transplanted to the US, my frustrations with not knowing the language were palpable. Watching from behind an invisible barrier as others played in the schoolyard translated into instant marginalization; teases like “you speak funny” echoed in my head and imbued a sense of inferiority. Luckily, I wasn’t alone. My first friend, Renske, spoke only Japanese in response to my Hebrew. Together we learned to communicate and play cheerfully through the prose of games, gestures, and childhood imagination.

Communication is more than words. It is provocative photography, gastronomic theater around the family dinner table, a gentle hand on a friend’s shoulder to convey sympathy; it is about human expression, emotions, and values. Regrettably, our society’s dialect has flung restrictive nets, trapping people in the dialogue of money and materialistic measures of success. These nets have stifled the realization that hopes and dreams can be conveyed through various media.

My passion is to unite others around a common language that aligns understanding while preserving accents – the unique nuances representing culture, personality, and experience – in individual’s voices. I will help others develop an appreciation for their own gifts so no one feels left out simply because they don’t know the right words. I will make people realize that different need not imply better or worse.

I will empower people to speak success in their own intonation.

— Shahar Ziv