How Learning Spanish Saved a Life

Learning a second language is good for a lot of things — falling in love, traveling more independently, finding a better job. In fact, sometimes it can be an actual lifesaver. Just ask Sami Saba, a doctor from New York, who was on his way to Spanish class when his language skills faced the ultimate test.

In the bustle of Union Square station, a tipsy guy getting off the downtown 4 train suddenly fell into the gap between the platform and subway car. The passenger’s friend desperately tried to pull him out by the arms. The train conductor didn’t notice a passenger was stuck. Then Sami rushed in and helped bend the passenger’s knee, unsticking his leg within seconds of the train moving.

“Are you okay?” Sami asked. “I’m a doctor.” The passenger, who spoke little to no English, didn’t respond. And it was here that Sami’s language skills became crucially important. After the passenger’s friend told him that the injured man was epileptic, Sami was able to ask about seizures in Spanish and keep the passenger calm until MTA paramedics arrived on the scene.

Sami says that the classes he’d been taking played a decisive part that day on the platform. In fact, this was exactly why he was learning Spanish. As a doctor in the Bronx, Sami regularly interacts with patients who are most comfortable speaking Spanish. To aid him in those moments, Sami started Spanish 1 with Fluent City last November.

Sami just started Spanish Level 2 and says there is already a noticeable difference with patients. Many of them appreciate Sami’s efforts to learn their language.  “I would encourage anyone hoping to practice medicine in New York to learn Spanish,” says the local hero, who continued to his Brooklyn class after leaving the passenger.

Sami has more than earned himself a vacation, and recently convinced a few friends to join him on a trip to Barcelona, where he hopes to practice his Spanish daily.

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