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15 encouraging phrases a Spanish speaker like me would love for you to learn.

Learning these simple yet meaningful phrases could make all the difference in the world.

15 encouraging phrases a Spanish speaker like me would love for you to learn.

I'm a 38-year-old bilingual Mexican-American, and I recently came to a very interesting realization about non-Spanish speakers.

I meet a lot of people at work, on the street, and in my community who want to make an effort by speaking my native language. It's great. But often, they default to the same handful of phrases: "Hola," "Buenos días," maybe a "Como está" once in a while.

I was chatting with a co-worker recently about my work as a writer. I could tell he was very proud of me. When our chat ended, he said, "Si se puede!" I thought, "Dammit!"


Let me explain: "Si se puede" means "yes we can," and it's a renowned cry of Latino pride made famous by American labor leader and social activist Cesar Chávez way before President Barack Obama made it a slogan. A lot of Latinos love that phrase.

But the phrase is so generic now that it has almost taken away the true meaning of his pride.

That wasn't his fault, of course. I just would've preferred an "I'm really proud of you" instead. Then I immediately felt terrible for thinking that because how could he know that?

Please don't get me wrong: I appreciate it oh-so-much when non-Spanish-speaking people take the time and effort to say something to me in Spanish. But it would be awesome if there were more common phrases floating around society (besides curse words).

So I wanted to offer up some other options for those friendly Spanish-speaking chats you might want to have. Allow me to be your friendly bilingual guide. :)

Here are 15 inclusive phrases in Spanish that I would love to see become part of our shared vernacular:

1. Great job. / Buen trabajo.

Pronounced: boo-en tra-bah-hoe.

All illustrations by Kitty Curran.

This phrase goes a long way, and it's always nice to feel like what you're doing is making a difference.

2. You have a beautiful smile. / Que bella sonrisa.

Pronounced: ke beh-ya sone-ree-sa.

Go ahead, try it; and I guarantee they'll flash those pearly whites even wider.

3. Would you like to be friends? / Quisieras ser mi amigo(a)?

Pronounced: key-see-air-aws sare me amigo (for a male) amiga (for a female)?

This question could spark the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Promise!

4. I appreciate your work. / Aprecio tu trabajo.

Pronounced: aw-pre-see-oh too trah-bah-hoe.

Recognizing someone's hard work — particularly if they're on the job — is a wonderful thing.

5. You make the world a better place. / Tu mejoras el mundo.

Pronounced: too meh-ho-raws el moon-doe.

This phrase has the power to stop anyone in their tracks and instantly make their day.

6. Your kindness is appreciated. / Aprecio tu amabilidad.

Pronounced: ah-pre-see-oh too aw-ma-bee-lee-dod.

There is no such thing as too much kindness in this world, so there's no way you can overuse this phrase if you truly feel it about someone.

7. How is your day going? / Como va tu dia?

Pronounced: como va too dee-ah?

A simple conversation-starter or perfect for friendly chitchat.

8. Are you enjoying the weather? / Estás disfrutando del clima?

Pronounced: es-tas dees-froo-tan-doh del clee-maw?

You know how they say talking about the weather is the perfect small talk? It's like that in Spanish, too!

9. You have a lot to offer. / Tienes mucho que ofrecer.

Pronounced: tee-en-es moo-choe ke oh-freh-ser

It's the perfect morale booster, especially when someone you care about is feeling down and out.

10. I'm proud of you. / Estoy orgullosa(o) de ti.

Pronounced: es-toy or-goo-yo-so (from a male) or or-goo-yo-sa (for a female) de tee.

This is another powerful phrase that you shouldn't use sparingly with anyone you feel deserves to hear it.

11. I believe in you. / Creo en ti.

Pronounced: kre-oh en tee.

This is beautiful compliment can be used in so many everyday situations at home, in school, and at the workplace.

12. Never give up. / Nunca te des por vencida(o).

Pronounced: noon-ka te des pore ven-see-da (to a female) or ven-see-do (to a male).

Another morale-boosting statement of positive reinforcement for anyone you believe in.

13. I know you can do it. / Yo sé que tú puedes.

Pronounced: yo se ke too poo-eh-des.

This phrase is especially nice to say to someone struggling with a task or facing a complicated situation.

14. You are very pleasant to be around. / Tu presencia es agradable.

Pronounced: too preh-sen-see-aw es aw-grah-dob-le.

Best. Compliment. Ever.

15. How do you say ___ in Spanish? / Como se dice ___ en Español?

Pronounced: ko-mo se dee-se [enter any word here] en ess-pan-yol?

For yours truly, this is the best request ever, which is why I humbly requested the friendly gal in the red shirt in the illustrations be drawn in my likeness.

Can you say, "I love it!" in Spanish? It's "Me encanta!" And that's how I feel about this brief but mighty guide to helpful phrases in Spanish.

I'm not the type to get offended when someone says something to me in Spanish while in public, assuming I'm Latina.

Because I am a Latina, and I look it, and I'm OK with that. But it is important to remember there are Latinos who prefer to blend, to not be approached by someone trying to speak Spanish simply because they look Latino.

Either way, there is absolutely no shame in saying "Hola" or "Buenos días," or anything else you know how to say. It shows your good intentions and lets Latinos like me know you're making an effort to speak our language.

But my hope is that you might also be able to add some other phrases to your arsenal, too should the need to express yourself in Spanish arise.

After all, learning how to better communicate with one another is one of the best ways to make the world a better place. ¡Ya verán!

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."