By Mary Cox
I never thought I’d be a runner, but with a training plan and encouragement of friends and family, I found myself at the finish line of more than one half marathon. Through that experience I came to really understand that with dedication and structured training, I really can accomplish just about anything. (Don’t look for me in the Olympics anytime soon, though…)
One of the biggest benefits to working here at Abriendo Mentes this summer is having access to excellent Spanish classes. This drew me to the organization because I decided it was time to finally learn Spanish “for good.” I’d studied it in high school, college and a little bit last year, but I needed that focused structure and place to really immerse myself. I needed a training plan!
This summer I took Spanish classes 5 days a week, 3-4 hours a day with an excellent Spanish teacher here in Potrero. I have made excellent progress and can now communicate in and understand Spanish. I’m no longer afraid to travel around alone because I don’t understand, and I’m even now brave enough to say “!Si, yo hablo Español!”.
To prove it to myself, I spent my last weekend here in Granada, Nicaragua, where they speak much less English. It was a “graduation trip.” I made all of my travel arrangements in Spanish, and even got through the travel hiccups that inevitably happen using only Spanish. I held conversations with people on the bus, the owners of my hotel and people in the streets. Long conversation is still a challenge, and the Nicaraguan accent made it even harder, but I’m proud of what I could understand and what I have accomplished with my two months of focused Spanish study.
As with running, I’ll need to keep it up when I go home. I already have plans to get involved in activities that require Spanish, and I’ll continue lessons with my teacher here on Skype (yay for technology!). I still have a lot to learn, but just like one day I will run a full marathon, one day I will easily have long conversations in Spanish, too.
¡Porque tengo un plan y dedicación, entonces puedo lograr (casi) cualquier cosa!