Sunday, June 4, 2017
The Ecuador Journals #3
It was time to clock out from one of my shifts at the Centro (center) where we work, when a little kid who wasn’t even as tall as the table walked up to me, stretched out his hands towards mine and said “ciao!”. He hadn’t spoken to me all day despite my best efforts but he made sure to say bye. Like the sucker for babies that I am, my heart melted. I wanted to carry him and give him a hug, but instead, I muttered goodbye in an unnecessarily high octave voice, tapped his palm and watched him run off.
I’ve always loved working with children. My first experience was with the only two kids who showed up at my grandma’s crèche when it first started out of a room in our house. I was both excited and nervous to hold little babies, change their diapers, feed them & rock them to sleep. I still feel these two things when I work with children but this time is different.
Although our community center doesn’t serve only children, they are the group I interact with the most on my shifts. Every day I’m both excited and nervous. Excited to speak Spanish, but nervous about my pronunciations and tense use (if you’re learning a language you know the struggle). However once I’ve spent a few minutes with the kids, the nerves start to dissipate & I begin to relax. We get into an easy groove talking, playing, mixing English and Spanish and correcting ourselves where necessary.
Yes, I have 8-year-olds correcting my Spanish and I welcome it with open arms because not only are they patient, they seem more than willing to answer my questions + who better to help with my Spanish than native speakers?. “Como se dice _____ en español” ( “How do you say ____ in Spanish?”) I usually ask, to which I get several replies. Sometimes they giggle at how I say a certain word, and my reaction is usually to laugh and ask how to say it properly.
Language is such an amazing tool. The ability to communicate is something I do not take for granted both in my native language – English, and the one I’ve adopted – Spanish. Learning Spanish has afforded me the opportunity to immerse myself in several different cultures in a way I never would have been able to do otherwise; and for me, this is invaluable. I’m still on my journey to fluency. I know it won’t happen overnight, but every day for as long as I’m here, I’ll walk into the Centro ready to talk, make mistakes, laugh at myself and learn.
…knowledge is never wasted… — Wayne English
Highlights of the week
- Visiting the Mercado Artesenal (Artisanal Market), Quito. Besides this being a lovely place to visit, I was impressed with my haggling skills! Haggling isn’t my forte, not even in English, so successfully (or so I think) doing it in Spanish felt like a small win!
- I learned some new Salsa steps on a recent night out. It’s interesting to see how differently Salsa is danced everywhere. I can barely keep up with the different styles, but dancing is more about the feeling. If you worry too much about the steps, you’ll have no fun!
- Two Barrels Brewery. I’m not a huge fan of beer, but the homemade beer at Two Barrels was excellent!! A must-visit in the Chillos Valley.
- Watching M’s face get slammed into her cake. It’s customary in Ecuador to have the person celebrating their birthday smash their face into a cake. I may or may not start this tradition with my family and friends. Haha!
- Visiting Mitad Del Mundo (Look out for a post on this soon!)
thank you for reading!
All photos shot (by Asia) and edited on iPhone 6S+
same footprints, different sands