Monday, April 18, 2005


My friend John (an Americorps volunteer living in the colonias) set me up with an "intercambio" (or language exchange partner). Nasaria is a 39-year old mother of two who lives in the colonias (sub-standard housing community) with her husband, mother-in-law, horse, rooster, rabbit, and chicken. She works at the women's leadership center (that John helps coordinate) teaching ESL classes to pre-K children. We meet together at her house on the weekends for a couple hours to read and talk....she practices her English and I practice my Spanish. She reads a children's book to me in English, I help her with difficult words, then we translate it into Spanish together. We also read together her social security paperwork (in English) and then translated it...that was tough! She is so excited when she translates something correctly or learns a new word! Next, we're going to translate an English recipe to Spanish and cook together. Nasaria helps me improve my vocabulary and understand cultural idioms.

During our first "intercambio," she explained to me that although her husband works at their ranch in Reynosa, MX (nearby city on "la frontera"), she can't go there to help. I immediately knew why, but to my surprise she openly explained that she's waiting for legalization papers that should clear in couple months, until Mexico visits or no return to her home. Anyway, she's invited me to visit the ranch in the that should be fun!


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