Tomorrow the first members of a new team arrive in the Peten: Dr. Anne and companions. Orfe is beginning to try to prepare her ears. "Is she/he speaking Spanish or English?", she finds herself asking. And our non-proficient-in-Spanish team members will find themselves asking the same question.
For example: As a medical student asked a Spanish-speaking patient preliminary questions, she kept hearing mixed in with the responses from the patient: "Gracias, adios!" She could not figure out why the patient was saying "Thank you, good-bye" when the appointment hadn't even started and the patient did not appear to be leaving. It was only later that she realized that the patient was using the very common phrase: "Gracias a Dios!" or "Thanks be to God!"
Two other common short Spanish responses are: "Ay, Si!" or an emphasized "Yes!" and "Ay, No!" an emphasized "No!" Wouldn't you know it "Ay, Si!" sounds exactly like "I see!" and "Ay, no!" sounds exactly like "I know!" And the phrases are not exactly interchangable! Think about it!
Franklin, the third son of Ismael and Orfe, is preparing to go to the USA to join his older brother, Jesse, at St. John Jesuit High School in Toledo. His scheduled departure is about 12 days away. After a 6-week visit just before Christmas, he has been invited to return not only to an education in the USA, but also to join a very loving family with his brother. As you can imagine, he is very excited! So, while I am trying to learn and practice Spanish, he is trying to learn and practice English. This is a house of strange languages including the babbling of 1-year old Anita!
Each evening, Franklin and I spend some time together reading in English. I am surprised by how well he does, including the pronunciation of very complicated words. His comprehension is lacking, but he is working on it. He will adapt quickly once surrounded by English speaking friends and family.
As Anita grows older, it is our hope that while she is learning Spanish, I will learn it with her. Our hope is that Anita will be bi-lingual (and will understand the difference between Ay, Si! and I see!) from an early age. At the same time, it is our hope that Orfe will learn English. All of us learning along the way.
Sr. Pam Buganski
Sr. Pam joined SewHope as our first American Project Coordinator in 2012