Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Salamanca Surprise

I'm sitting in a bar/cafe in Salamanca, Spain. It is Wednesday evening. I've been teaching adults conversational English all week...I'm tired and definitely "talked out"...but I'm so loving this week.

I've been involved in this program called Vaughn Town where I spend a week with businessmen and women teaching them conversational English. Basically, I have numerous conversations with Spanish people. I must tell you this is one of the most interesting and rewarding experiences I've ever had.

The people I have met are quite simply...AWESOME! I cannot even begin to tell you how much these people have enriched my life.

Both sides, the Anglos and the Spaniards, have many different lives. Yet we all came together for a common learn. As we talked we learned about each other. At night we put on small skits, dance, sing, and thoroughly entertain each other. O f course there were those of us who explored the Salamanca night life. I have danced like I haven't danced in over a year. My two favorite dance partners are my Spanish sister, Laura and a lovely man named, Joan.

As a teacher I was thrilled and intrigued on how these adults went about learning English. Some were very concerned with grammar while others just wanted to know that they could speak and be understood. I completely understand all this because I had just spent the three previous weeks wandering around Spain where I was desperately trying to learn the language.

During this week I've learned a lot about communication. First, a person doesn't really need perfect grammar to communicate. Second, it is imperative that a people listen closely to each other...this goes for people even when they are speaking the same language. Finally, communication is more than talking. It is facial expressions, tone of voice, and use of body language. These are all things I've known as I've taught many students who don't speak English...the difference is this is the first time I have really been on both ends of the learning to communicate part.

Like I said before the Spaniards I met have totally enriched my life. I cannot begin to express how blessed I feel by meeting them. Of all the Anglos, I was one that was a bit different...the reoccurring theme of me not "fitting". But you know what? These people just accepted that I didn't fit and loved me for it.

Just like the feeling I had in the mountains...I can go back to Virginia and be at peace with "not fitting". I like that I don't fit, and I know that I will continue to bring people into my life who appreciate me simply for who I am.

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