“Someday you will be hired and use it because you know it. Study Spanish!”
My mom’s refrain. She used it on me multiple times while I was growing up. She hails from Guadalajara, Mexico. English is her second language, Spanish is mine. My second language was in the airwaves of my house. In seventh grade I began formal studies as Spanish was an option in my junior high. However, I never really considered treating the subject as optional. It made perfect common sense. We go with our strength. My mom’s words echoed.
By the time I entered high school my mindset was firmly rooted in the premise that I travel the path of least resistance — the path that simultaneously offered the greatest reward throughout academia. Stick to Spanish and experience the inherent payoff. I did. I was fortunate to benefit being in the classroom of the-greatest-Spanish-teacher-on-the-planet. Ms. Rumbaugh–yes! pronounced like the dance style–enhanced the pleasure of taking a seat in her classroom by virtue of every conceivable visual delight. The walls and ceiling were festooned with all manner of colorful cultural items. I spent three years in her classroom. Spanish levels 3, 4, and 5. There was school district criteria in place that made provision for a student’s having completed 8th grade Spanish as the equivalent of Spanish 1. Who was I to question?
The most fortuitous circumstance came as a result of my having attained the level of Spanish 5. Two other girls and I shared the projects in our senior year that Ms. Rumbaugh deemed befitting our unique status. A glorious senior year in what had become a program tailor-made for the three of us fortunate enough to qualify. A heady experience. To add another dimension to the euphoria, I was graced with a Spanish scholarship upon my graduation.
Since that time I have gone on to teach Spanish to young students. My mom’s words echoed.