Yesterday, I wrote about the school side of Spanish School. Now that school is explained, I want to talk about the more entertaining part: the people! I am one of 23 Spanish School students in this session. We range in age from 18 to 71, and we are a lively bunch. The group divides fairly neatly into two categories: the young people and the couples. There are four older couples (as in, they have children and grandchildren older), the middle-aged couple, the youngish newlywed couple, and 13 young people. We also have seven teachers, including my sister Emily (who is an additional member of “the young people.”
I am the oldest (by only a few months) of the young people, but I appear to be the youngest. In fact, one of the young gentlemen here asked me, upon my arrival, “So, have you graduated high school?” Because he was already friends with Emily from earlier in the year, I knew how old he was, and I had to restrain myself from saying, “Oh honey, I’m two years older than you.” (Ah the trials of appearing 16. People keep telling me I’ll appreciate it when I’m older, but I keep getting older and I still don’t appreciate it.)
Essentially, as a group we’re a funny little Spanish School family, made up of older, wiser people who are responsible and study a lot and go to bed on time (and I mean this as a sincere compliment), as well as we younger people who like to run around and be silly and study occasionally and go to bed late. We young people have a lot of fun together attempting to experience all the interesting things our area of Mexico has to offer.
I liken the Spanish School family to a large family vacation or reunion. At a family reunion, you’re with many people you like and love, but you can move around and hang out with lots of different people. There’s almost always something entertaining and/or cultural happening, as well as plenty of people with whom you can enjoy that cultural entertainment.
Spanish school family (among the young people) includes, but is not limited to:
- sharing food, sometimes by literally taking food off of other people’s plates, while other times it just means giving what you don’t want to eat to the hungry young man sitting next to you
- getting lost in the city and not having a meeting point planned but finding each other anyway because Emily and I were in separate groups and sometimes we can read each others’ minds
- having a group Bible study in English but going to Bible study mostly because the newlyweds bake cookies and have fresh fruit (FELLOWSHIP and fruit)
- throwing impromptu late night swing dance parties
- having a bonfire birthday party on the beach
- and more and more
Whenever you’re in such a close environment, studying, living, eating, celebrating together, you become close quickly. We plan each others’ birthday parties, throw impromptu swing dance parties, discover new restaurants and revisit old favorites, explore cities, study the Bible in English and try to read it in Spanish, learn about each others’ lives before now and where we want them to go. It’s messy and great and awkward and wonderful all at the same time.
The sad thing about Spanish School Family is that every 7-8 weeks, the family changes. Today, many of my new friends leave and move on to other adventures. The lone Level 4 is moving on to a new job in the states, the Level 3 who is my housemate (we live in the same house and share a Mexican family) is returning home (and both these people have become dear friends—today is awful because they’re going; I’ve been crying all day), and all of the older couples are going on to other adventures.
The trouble with becoming close to people, with becoming friends, with becoming family is that it hurts when you have to say goodbye. And this weekend is just the first round of my goodbyes here—I have two more sessions of Spanish to learn and new friends to make! The joys of friendship, community, and family, though, are well worth the pain of saying goodbye.