DEAR HARRIETTE: My family has chosen to go on a vacation this winter. After a few debates about where to go, we have decided that we are going to Spain. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity, but I have my reservations. I did not want to go to a Spanish-speaking country because I am the only person in my family who speaks Spanish, and I know I will turn into the Spanish scapegoat of sorts. Any interaction where English is not possible, I will be responsible for handling. My family claims this isn't true, but I see no other way of vacationing in a country where only one person knows the language. I want to enjoy myself in Spain without having to be everyone's translator. I do not want to be selfish, but I do not want to have to devote my time to making sure everyone understands one another. How do I keep the balance on this vacation? -- Speaking Spanish, Hartford, Connecticut
DEAR SPEAKING SPANISH: Some people would look at this opportunity and your particular skills as a blessing. How wonderful that one member of the traveling party can speak the language! I suggest that you change your perspective. Sure, you will be asked questions, but the great news is that often you may be able to answer them with ease. Sadly, most Americans are not bilingual. You are. Don't lock away your gift. Share it.
Be proactive as well. Make it easier on yourself by encouraging your family members to get translation books now to learn the basic courtesies and questions. Tell them that you will not ruin their trip by translating everything. Encourage them to study so that they will be ready for the trip. Finally, you can request a translator through your hotel so that, for a small fee, you will have support that you may need yourself in navigating the country.