Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 17: Learning Spanish

One week down – four to go!

I had my first “Spanish” conversation today! It may not seem like a huge deal, especially considering the fact that it was with a 9 year old boy, but for me it was a breakthrough. It was as basic as basic gets, but it was something and it made both of us smile. It even ended with a high five! Good sign right?

After a week of being here, I can say that language is the biggest challenge that I’m dealing with. Very few people I meet speak English here, and I’m definitely not fluent in Spanish. My team really isn’t any better either actually. Out of the nine of us, one speaks Spanish fluently and I think we are overwhelming her already by asking how to say things and asking her what words mean every five seconds. That being said, it hasn’t been impossible though. Actually, I couldn’t be more impressed and proud of my team so far. I knew that I was taking on a huge challenge by leading a development project here while I don’t speak Spanish, but everyday I’m more and more confident that we will find a way and that we will all pick up the basics by the end.

I knew from the first day of work that my team was hard working. I’m sure you would agree if you saw us sitting at the dinner table every night plowing through our meal, with dirt smeared on our faces and paint all over our clothes, just absolutely exhausted. Today I realized though that they are even more courageous and amazing for coming to do work here knowing that they would deal with a language barrier. It’s been hard, but they have already put themselves out there and are figuring out how to communicate. A few of them also had their own breakthroughs in our morning Spanish class. Some don’t know that I heard or saw, but I caught them stumbling through conversations and actually successfully getting their point across to the kids one way or another. Somehow you aren’t as intimidated to try to talk to a nine year old and make mistakes in every sentence, or to make ridiculous gestures and try to speak with half words and half charades. Maybe by the end of week two I’ll even manage to speak to an adult in full sentences!

Hasta luego!

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