Student News

Spain #7: Meaningful Conversations

Paulina Baltazar – June 13, 2019

Taylor Coan ’21 comes to “appreciate the deeper level of learning that living with a host family provides.”

When I found out that I had been accepted to this trip, my immediate concern was about communicating. I don’t have a flawless accent, I can’t roll my r’s, and I tend to mix up conjugations frequently while speaking. I worried that my host family wouldn’t be able to understand me, and that our house subsequently would be filled with a lot of awkward silence. This fear trailed behind me throughout the rest of the school year, an occasional worry that I brushed off because this trip always seemed so far away. It didn’t really hit me that I was going to have to primarily speak Spanish for the better part of a month until I arrived in Cadiz.

In Wakana, it was easy to forget that we were in Spain. The only people at the camp were from Deerfield, besides the two or three employees of Wakana or MundoLengua that accompanied us. We talked in English for the most part, with a Spanish word here or there. The reality of the situation finally registered with me when I stepped off the bus in Cadiz and saw all of the host families waiting for us. I was really in Spain, and I needed to rely on my prior knowledge of Spanish in order to form a relationship with the people here.

After a week living with the families, I have grown to appreciate the deeper level of learning that living with a host family provides. When talking to my host mom, I don’t have time to form a sentence in my head before saying it, I simply have to speak as I think. It was hard in the beginning, but my host mom is so patient and kind that I never felt embarrassed about my lack of accuracy. I now look forward to our meaningful conversations after meals about Spanish politics, Sarah and I’s lives in America, and her family that is scattered all around the world. I’ve learned that the people here are also extremely friendly. They talk to us on the bus, kindly speaking at a slower pace than usual so we can understand them. They ask about our trip and our homes in America, and it’s cool because we get to learn about people that we otherwise never would have met. I’m really excited to learn more about my host family, as well as interact with more people through MundoLengua.

Taylor Coan ’21 (left), Harry Niles ’21 (right)

From left to right: Tessa Mannix ’20, Taylor Coan ’21, and Michelle Zimmerman ’21