Wednesday, June 19, 2013

An Education

I know that I already posted a Gems post this week on our usual day (Monday), but I did promise that I would get caught up on all of the Gems posts that I missed during my little "break" from the blog. Please bear with me a bit since I will obviously have to be posting more than one Gems post a week until I get caught up. So...

Gems of Reflection: Week 21
This Gems of Reflection post was supposed to have been posted on week 21, so I apologize again for the delay (seeing as how Monday, I posted for week 24 - yikes), and hope that you all understand the method to my madness here. ;)

Anyway, the answer to the question is, yes...there are aspects of my education and learning that I do believe I received from somewhere other than school - speaking Spanish, for example. I did take several high school and college Spanish courses, but I don't think I really learned to speak Spanish fluently until I was forced to speak it in the real world. When I was still in college, I was always afraid to speak it. I felt like I would sound silly to fluent speakers, and it made me afraid to open my mouth and try.

One day, I was at work (I was working at a tourist attraction at one of the local casinos at the time), and a Spanish-speaking customer came up to my window for assistance. I looked to one of my Spanish-speaking co-workers for help, but she turned to me and said, "You speak Spanish, Shannon, so speak it." Then she turned away, refusing to help me. At the time, I was so frustrated because I felt like she put me on the spot, but it was one of the greatest learning opportunities for me because it made the need to overcome my fear of speaking Spanish eminent. I physically could not help those customers if I didn't open my mouth and speak, so I did just that. And wouldn't you know it - I survived - and after all was said and done, I had to thank my co-worker because the experience made me realize that speaking Spanish wouldn't cause me pain or death. Haha. It actually ended up giving me the confidence that I needed to start speaking regularly and to become more fluent. 

Eventually, I started working for a law office where a huge portion of our clientele was native Spanish speakers, and seeing as how my boss did not speak Spanish, I was given further learning opportunities in the form of translating for him. It got to the point where I was speaking Spanish on a daily basis and my fluency was constantly improving. Eventually, I would meet clients in person who I'd already talked to in Spanish on the phone and they could not believe that this blonde hair, green-eyed white girl was the person with whom they had spoken Spanish. Their reaction was pretty hilarious at times.

So, I may have learned the basics of the language in a classroom, but it was the life experience that taught me to speak the language and communicate fluently, and I am ultimately very grateful for my co-worker who forced me to come out of my shell and open my mouth that day. :)

Related Link:

Gems of Reflection

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