Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hispanohablante (Sort Of)

Academia: Check-in week for the summer term is over, and my free time and energy have returned, huzzah! Y'all have heard me talk about how crazy the first week of the semester is approximately eight billion times, so I won't go into much detail. I drove students around, I gave seminars, I answered what are now extremely familiar questions about housing, immunizations, insurance, and life in the US. Blah blah blah.

The only thing that really stood out as different was how much Spanish I got to practice during the week. We have a strict English-only policy at work; not because we hate our students' native languages, but because the best way to learn English is to use English as much as possible. So usually, I try to encourage my students to speak English with me, even though I minored in Spanish and am passingly fluent. But last week, we had several new Spanish-speaking students who really didn't speak English at all, and it was more important that they understand how signing a lease, opening a bank account, and buying health insurance works than that they get a few more hours of English practice.

It took a bit for my Spanish to un-rustify, but once I got going, I felt like I got by reasonably well. Everyone seemed to understand what I was saying at least. Plus, it's good for me to put myself in my students' shoes linguistically from time to time. Spending two whole afternoons speaking only Spanish reminded me how hard all my students are working every day to live life in English. It gave me a renewed admiration for them. At the beginning of the semester, when students are beating down my office door, remembering just how brave and determined they are helps me stay flexible and patient.

Sartorial: I wore this outfit last week on one of my Spanish-speaking days. I spent the afternoon driving students to see apartment complexes in the rain. Rainy days always make me want to wear jeans, and these pants are the closest maternity alternative I have. Actually, on a hot, humid day, they were better than jeans - the chambray fabric is lighter and looser than denim, making them the perfect summer pants. The loose top was cool and comfy in the humidity as well. All in all, not a bad outfit to spend a day in.

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