I am in Chihuahua, Mexico, right now spending six weeks with my beautiful friend Specca. This is to fulfill my LAST requirement in my MA in Cross-Cultural Studies!
While I am here I am taking about 6 hours of language lessons a day - ALL IN SPANISH. No English allowed. I do think this immersion way of learning really is the best way to learn a language, but it is so HARD. I seriously have no idea what is going on - ever. Yesterday I was ready to go into classes as normal but when I arrived we were headed into the main city square for a tour and shopping. Not a big deal - but everyone else knew the plan for the day and were prepared because they speak Spanish...and the rule is always NO INGLES! So literally the entire morning I just walked around in silence. There was one poor man, Doug, that tried to talk to me a couple of times - but no one else really attempted more than a few phrases because they all know how frustrating it is when I don't understand anything. sigh.
It really made me painfully aware of those that come into our county for better opportunities and have no idea how to speak the language. How frustrating. And so many Americans are just jerks that expect them to learn English perfectly or get out. We are not a very hospitable country. And learning a new language (especially by immersion) is hard. A friend of mine also reminded me about some of the Fuller students that I run into who's English is hard to understand, but back in their home country they were leaders in their church and community, or that that are actually excellent communicators and very intelligent people. That's humbling for me to realize, and a good reminder. Because none of these people here would ever believe that I have two Master's degrees...
I think it's good for me to experience being on the other side. I do enjoy learning compassion for others - but at the same time wish i could just learn it by reading a book :)