Perhaps my last post let you in on one of the secrets of a week at Diverbo... the schedule is pretty packed. From 9:00 in the morning until well into the night, yo he estado hablando mucho. Yes, I'm talking a lot... of... Spanish. So much so that as I write this, and look for words to fill this post, half of my brain is coming up with ideas in English, the other half is protesting this English speaking invader and chiming in with palabras (words) in Spanish. Yes, my head is a bit of a mess.
The first two days were full on "let's do this," with me kind of too overwhelmed (but in a good way) to really know what I had gotten myself into. I found myself speaking more Spanish than I knew I could, and feeling very good about how well I could understand the Spaniards. I was, in fact, feeling so confident that I agreed to do a theater performance the third day. Now, there are a few things in this life that I do not enjoy doing. At the top of the list is theater, a close second is singing. Well, thanks to the wonders of this Spanish speaking chica that somehow entered my body, I agreed to both.
My big theater performance was to happen the night of the next day. Luckily and not luckily, this coincided with an extreme case of insomnia the night before, and wasn't helped by my underlying case of jet lag. The luck in this is that I went through my day in a bit of a fog and experienced the "wall of Diverbo." Like the wall I know very well from my marathons, this wall hit me hard and knocked me on my arse. What does a wall at a language immersion look like?
It looks like the remnants of a Spanish and English dictionary being shredded, then dumped in my head for me to make sense of. I stumbled through my conversations that day, sometimes coming up with good answers, other times receiving a lot of help. My Spaniard teachers didn't seem to be phased by my problem- because actually, they're really not "teachers" but friends, and whatever language challenges are presented at Pueblo Español are met with such grace and ease that the Anglo doesn't feel bad. We are here to help each other, period.
With this in mind, I sat down with the other three actors and Raquel (the director) to find out what my dreaded theater performance would entail. "It'll be really fun... no worries," Raquel told us at lunch. We were going to act out a Spanish wedding- there would be a bride and groom (Jon and Katka), a priest (Javier), and then me... the pregnant lover who would protest the wedding. PERFECT role for someone with stage fright, right?
Well, it got better. And my wall got bigger. As we rehearsed, I started seriously freaking out. Not really from the play, but rather from the build up of jet lag, the immersion, it being day three, and then learning I'd have to sing one of my lines. If I hadn't been so tired, I might have walked off the set, or had a full on nervous breakdown, telenovela-style.
But here's where that darn magic of Pueblo Español comes in again. I thought back to those original instructions... listen, speak, and enjoy. Enjoy. I realized that this wasn't the end of the world. I could actually just not get so worried about it, and have fun. Just like I was doing with the language- not getting too wrapped up in all the mistakes I was inevitably making, I could also do the same with my acting debut. I mustered up my Diverbo courage and put on my magical shoes, a dress, fake baby, and purple wig... and BOOM did something I'd never done before. When show time came, I found it actually wasn't that bad. Now, I'm not signing up for any plays in the future, but bottom line, I survived, and it was pretty cool.
This is what's happening here- all of us - the Anglo students and the Spaniards are surprising ourselves in what we're saying and doing. If the Spaniard teachers' experience is anything like mine when I was a volunteer at Pueblo Ingles, they are growing just as much as the students are.
This program is life changing. Period.
And that, my friends, is pretty magical.