On a recent trip to the Public Market, I came across a sign that read, “No such thing as too much basil.” The vendors were selling three little shoots for a dollar.  I planted them in the backyard in late May, and now the basil has grown into a bush. As soon as I harvest a handful of leaves, another handful takes their place.

There is no such thing as too much education or too many languages.

Because I stayed so long in school as an international student, I flow easily from one cultural and linguistic environment to another. My adventurous side feeds my compassionate side. I know how difficult it is to acquire a new language or adapt to a different culture. My international students enjoy hearing stories of my struggles to adapt to the rigors of the French university system. Professors had neither time nor patience and I had no tutor to sit down with me, so I decided to give students what I never had.

Imagine not being able to express “I’m in extreme pain” or “I’m suffering so much that I haven’t slept in days.” Now that I have mastered both French and Spanish, I work as a medical interpreter who makes it possible for the doctor to understand just how much pain a patient is in. With the interpreter’s assistance, psychiatric patients have been able to unburden themselves during group sessions and work toward recovery as well as release from the hospital.

My list of passions has grown like those stalks of basil that could be found in a community garden. Every time one stalk is cut or pinched, it has the potential to grow tall like a tree or wide like a bush.