Monday, July 9, 2012

Reason to Attend Spanish Camp #2

Making Friends

In the same way that learning a foreign language makes new pathways in your brain for more knowledge (Reason Number One), it also opens up new pathways in your life for friendship. 

Meet Jose and Teresa.  They run a pensión out of their house in Cuzco, Peru.  The summer that I taught English in Cuzco, Peru, Jose and Teresa hosted my friend Lauren and I for the month.  Teresa, like a little queen bee, busied herself around the house cleaning, cooking, conversing and warming the house with her presence and welcoming spirit.  She was full of opinions, stories, questions, advice and wisdom.  Every morning we woke to a beautiful breakfast table that she had set--fresh fruit, juice, pan tostada, and of course, cafe. 

Jose kept just as busy, but with less to-do and less words.  Always with a smile on his face, he tended the plants on the patio, made sure our room always had everything we needed, drove us where we needed to go, helped us plan sight-seeing trips, and constantly made sure we stayed safe. 
The two made a perfect pair--like tortoise and hare, Bert and Ernie, peanute butter and jelly.  They wasted no time welcoming us into their home and their life, like we were their very own grandchildren.  On a buffet table in their dining room sat a collection of frames with pictures of past students and volunteers that had stayed in their home.  Teresa could pick up each frame and tell a story about the people in the picture with the warmth and pride of a grandma telling of her grandchild's life and accomplishments--yet they had only stayed with her and Jose for a month or maybe a summer at most and had been gone for years. 

Being a student of their language enabled me to converse with Jose and Teresa, get to know them, and become a part of their daily life in a way that I would not have been able to if I only spoke English, for Jose and Teresa only spoke Spanish fluently. 

I am forever indebted to Dr. Brown at Cottey College, for telling his own stories of travel and adventure that inspired me to be committed to learning a new language.  Because of this inspiration I was able to meet new friends like Jose and Teresa, and all the children and teachers at the school Khipu where I volunteered teaching English that summer.  Speaking Spanish allowed me to learn about these people and their lives, to interact with them, learn from them--engaging with them in their language taught me about their lives and culture in a way that deepened my understanding of myself and the world around me, an experience I cannot fully explain and one I hope you get to have for yourself.
Some of the awesome and energetic children we taught
English to at Khipu.

Fani, the English teacher for the High School students.  She
was so sweet and quiet, a constrast from the students she taught,
yet she never had trouble getting them to quiet down and learn.

Cecilia, out host in Lima, Peru while we were going through
out voluneer orientation and training.  She introduced us to the
city lifestyle of Peru, a little bit different from the small town
rythym of Cuzco.
Manuel, a taxi driver that also served as our tour guide while we
were in Lima.  He had a dangerous job, as Lima is a big city with crime.
When we stopped back through Lima on our way back to the states,
we found that Manuel had been robbed while working, yet he
was still driving his taxi, still smiling.

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