It’s not always easy getting people to talk. I know this first-hand as a video producer who often tries to convince people to speak on camera: It can be like pulling teeth.
So when the idea came (at an evening Spanish class), to report on people who have learned another language for love’s sake, I was concerned that I had set myself up for a trying process.
But this project revealed an exciting truth: People love to talk about love. Simple email inquiries resulted in piles of stories in my inbox from people willing and excited to share stories of how they learned another language for a loved one — and how their love then blossomed.
The true test came when I stepped outside to record man-on-the-street interviews. On midtown Manhattan’s Sixth Avenue, there are plenty of international people, but getting them to stop amidst the hustle and bustle is typically a nearly impossible feat. For this piece, I was asking people to say “I love you” in their native tongue.
So I hit the street with a sign that read “Do you speak another language? Come say ‘I LOVE YOU’ to TODAY.com.” To my shock, people arrived in droves. Typically, I have to beg people to stop and listen — and, after a couple of hours and a handful of interviews, I sulk back into the office, frustrated. But this was easy — even fun. I felt like I was in another dimension.
What a revelation! Love is an inspiring topic and it makes people want to express something positive.
Is there a better Valentine’s Day discovery?
The enthusiasm shown by the men and women I spoke with actually compelled me to alter the direction of the video piece. Originally, I wanted to report on both the good and the bad, including the complications and difficulties experienced by couples who come from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. But this fervor to share smiles and happy words, in any language, about love — on the streets of New York City, no less — made me shift the focus of the story to show how language can strengthen the bonds of a relationship.
Maybe it's love's power that makes it an easy topic to talk about. "Love really can overcome a lot of obstacles," relationship expert Ian Kerner told me. "Love is the thing you resort to; the foundation."
Working on this project put a smile on my face every day, from its shoots to the final edits. It also taught me a valuable lesson: Love really does conquer all.
How do YOU say "I love you"? Tell us your love story in the comments!