The Beginning- Exchanges to Spain
For my non-bilingual readers, “como llegue aca?” means “how did I arrive here” or more colloquially, “how did I end up here?”. I want to give a huge shoutout to my parents for sending me off to Spain when I was 11 and didn’t speak any Spanish. This decision affected the trajectory of my life more than I can imagine. So yeah, I was 11 and a Spanish girl named Carmen came to my house in Chicago for a month then we both went to Madrid (and then to the south of Spain, Marbella). I did this with her two or three years then due to scheduling issues went with another family (Carmen’s cousins friends) another year and finally studied in Salamanca, Spain. Spain is amazing and beautiful and it was the first other culture I was really exposed to… I was in love. My husband was going to be spanish, my kids would be bilingual, we would live on the Spanish coast. Little did I know that my Spain exposure would just be the first of many cultural immersion exposures.
Me, in pink, at Peniscola, Spain at the ripe age of 12 🙂
My Love for Traveling/Volunteering
In the years that followed, I volunteered in Appalachia rebuilding houses, in South Dakota on Native American reservations at a kid’s club, in Ghana at an orphanage and school, in Ecuador as an English teacher and finally here in Colombia… oh yeah and I went to India with my high school. There, I only volunteered for like two days but they were really cool experiences as well. One was at Mother Theresa’s ashram and another was at a kid’s club. Also, my loving Catholic-raised mother raised me volunteering all the time in Chicago- in homeless shelters, at food pantries. I think that’s what really instilled the desire to serve in me. (LOVE YOU MOM!) Volunteering in all these cool places never felt like a task to me because I got to learn about/be immersed in their cultures.
So, Here I Am….
in Colombia, on my second visit and the person I would like to credit after my mom is my cousin, my bestie, Christopher- the other half/main half of ACA spanish. I will let him introduce himself and his journey but he’s been here since 2015 (when I was studying/teaching in Ecuador) and since then I wanted to join him but I had to finish college and get my life in order and I finally came to join him a little less than a year after graduating from college. He learned so much about teaching, language acquisition and the methodology and has let me sort of hop on to what he’s created….. pretty amazing right?
So I moved from Chicago to Andes, Antioquia on the first of April of 2017. Now, we are based in Jardin but Andes is a nearby pueblo that we also fell in love with. We taught there (him for 9 months, me for four) outside of one of the churches every weekday and really developed a group of kids who came back and showed a lot of progress.
As you will see if you follow our journey here, our instagram @acaexplorers or our facebook /acaspanish, this all started with Christopher standing outside (usually in front of a church which are Latin American pueblos’ centers) with a whiteboard. Kids don’t have to bring anything to these free classes. It’s all about practicing pronunciation, singing, playing and interacting. It’s a really unique method of teaching and it works soooooo well and keeps the kids excited and interested. We have loved how we have progressed so far and now would like to expand our efforts and the population we reach. We have had so much support here in Jardin and from our friends and family at home and we thank you all soooo much!
Stay tuned to see what we want to do in the future and how we hope to build on the outside classes that we have been giving!
Paz y Amor,