Isn’t it amazing how God uses all things in our lives? Sometimes we think a chapter of our lives is completely over and yet God still has a plan for it. As I’ve jumped back into teaching Spanish at Baymonte, I’ve realized the passion the Lord gave me for the Latin Culture twenty years ago is still part of my story. Just a year and a half ago, I remember telling my friends and colleagues that I was going to be transitioning back into teaching after directing the children’s ministry at a local church for years. Most of them responded with something like, “What?! I didn’t even know that you speak Spanish!” We would laugh and I would go on to tell them of my two summers serving and teaching in Guatemala and how I fell in love with many aspects of Latin-American culture. For example, I love the emphasis on family and friends, celebrations and even the bright colors that point to joy and vitality. Even though I love many outer parts of this beautiful culture, I’ve been most deeply impacted by their generosity and ability to find joy, often in the midst of debilitating poverty. The Guatemalan students that I worked with were so excited to learn a new song, hear a new story and even learn about composting because it was such a rare gift for them to even be able to go to school. These gifts of generosity, prioritizing relationships, and finding joy in difficult situations are some of the cultural and biblical values I hope to pass on to my students.
Although Introductory Spanish focuses on grammar and vocabulary, I also strive to open my student’s eyes to the vast array of people and cultures that God has created. As a teacher, I want to help grow compassion, interest, and empathy towards other cultures in light of Jesus’ call for us to love one another. This can take many forms. This fall my eighth graders did a project called, “Spanish is Everywhere,” where they had the opportunity to explore Santa Cruz County to find examples of Spanish, both spoken, and written, through signs, locations, food labels, etc. It was so fun to hear of their adventures and, how, even when they thought Spanish wasn’t remotely close to their everyday lives, it actually showed up in quite a few familiar places.
When I first contemplated teaching at Baymonte and peeked at the website, I was immediately attracted to the stories and pictures of the yearly seventh grade Mission Trip to Mexico. I love that Baymonte makes this trip a priority for our students year after year. Even though the trip brings unknowns and elements that might be uncomfortable for us, the blessings of introducing our students to this next-door culture are invaluable for the formation of empathetic & compassionate students. When I went on the trip last year, I loved seeing first-hand how our student’s hearts and minds were moved and changed as they learned about and interacted with those who are a unique and beautiful part of God’s creation. I can’t wait to see what God does in the hearts of our current seventh graders this May!