By SUSAN DROMEY HEETER, Joyful Musings
My cousin, Catherine, came into my Spanish class yesterday to speak on her travels to Guatemala. With on-line learning, having guest speakers visit is relatively simple; I send a code and, like magic, my speaker appears. I muse joyfully on technology and muse joyfully on Guatemala, Catherine, cousins and guests in virtual classroom.
Catherine travels often to Guatemala and she spoke of her husband’s journey from that country, travelling through Mexico at 14, escaping an especially challenging life.
Catherine shared stories of women who craft, of a child who played with a three wheeled Matchbox car for hours, of the luxury of appreciating hot water when she returns to her home in Rhode Island. Catherine brought Spanish to life, sharing the phrase, “Dios Le Bendiga” as one to know when travelling to the country that borders Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador. “God bless her, God bless him.” It’s a phrase she hears often, says often.
Simple words and phrases capture the essence of a culture. Ours here? “Stay safe. Stay well.”
Stories resonate. Catherine is one of my forty first cousins, her sister, Sarah, visited my French class a few weeks ago to share her time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, in the Central African Republic, in Poland. My favorite story is the one she tells of trying to figure out the French word for “parachute” when she was being transported above the Central African Republic in a single-engine plane that started going…”putt, putt, putt.” The translation conveniently is “le parachute” and, miraculously, Sarah did not need one and lived to tell the story.
It’s a great time for stories, to share our experiences, our strengths, our hopes. A few weeks ago, a former student, Seth, popped into my classes to share his experiences from Hong Kong. Just like that, he showed up on our screen and talked of what it’s like living in Asia during a pandemic teaching music. He was fascinating, related that he uses a “direction song” I’d taught him in seventh grade and remarked he uses it when giving directions to Spanish speaking tourists.
It’s a good time to look outside this lock down, while we are on screen, we can invite those cousins, those friends, those travelers to share their stories with cherubs who are used to a very different type of class. I muse joyfully you may share your story should your life involve living abroad, speaking another language, using your passport. Let me know.
Susan Dromey Heeter is a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards.
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