Spanish and coffee. What do the two have in common? When you grow up in an Anglophone country, English is the language of instruction. So, I learnt English in school, and speak it fluently both at home and at work. At Oasis, I met diversity. I met people who speak other languages other than English. I have met some French and Spanish speakers. I know some French, and could easily say bonjour (hello), merci (thank you), and au revoir (good bye). However, for the Spanish speakers, I could only manage to say, Hola (hello) and cómo está (how are you?).
My language limitation was pronounced when I met a young woman with her daughter in a stroller.
“What’s her name?” I asked the mother as I waved at the little girl.
“No English. Spanish,” she said as she placed her hand on her chest with a wide smile.
“No Spanish,” I said. I looked around for a Spanish speaker.
Through the interpreter, our babel was dispelled. We introduced ourselves to each other and exchanged a few pleasantries. In the process, I picked a few Spanish words. How to introduce myself, and say some items like food and milk. It’s a journey and my vocabulary is improving by the day.
Oh! The coffee! I’m not a coffee person. I’ve always preferred tea. I was kind of thirsty and thought, well, there’s coffee in the house, why not try some. I tried some. I liked it. I liked it so much that I had a second cup. I found out that Janet, one of the volunteers had brewed the coffee. And I gave her a pat on the back for my new coffee habit. But, till now, I only take the coffee at Oasis. Mmh! I smell the coffee.
[By Pauline, a new intern / volunteer]