For the longest time, I thought I wanted to study the Spanish language in college. I loved every Spanish class I had and it was something that came more naturally to me than other subjects. Yet after the ACE in Peru trip, I was able to recognize it wasn’t just the language itself, but the ability to communicate and develop relationships with a whole new body of individuals, that showed me the true power of language. As I began to gain fluidity in my Spanish speaking skills on the trip, many barriers between individuals within the program and myself were erased.
One relationship I was especially thankful to have developed was with a project leader at the Valle Chosica work site. As we taught each other new words and elements of our respective first languages, I realized that by the end of the trip I had a profound amount of respect for this amazing woman. As I learned more about her life and her role as a mom, community leader, and worker, I felt I had a better understanding of the community in Cusco and the way the people support each other through many different means.
“Being immersed in a second language within the scenario of our ACE trip was an opportunity I will forever be thankful for.”
I also noticed that my fluency in Spanish allowed for a greater sense of comfort between us, and our conversations became deeper and more personal. I felt that I could open up about my personal thoughts and that this woman was giving me her honest opinions about topics – from the ethics of our trip, to voluntourism, to her life as a community member, and to why projects such as these can be extremely productive if done appropriately and respectfully.
Spanish not only allowed me to speak to more people but it allowed me to gain important perspectives I would never have been exposed to without this skillset. Being immersed in a second language within the scenario of our ACE trip was an opportunity I will forever be thankful for.