I Love Languages.

No time to describe my daily life today, once again…but that’s okay, because I’d rather discuss the process of learning a language and the power of it for me…

For me, learning a language feels something like walking around, gathering precious stones…with each word I pick up, memorize, use, whole new avenues of discussion and sharing are opened up. I learn the word baƱo, and suddenly I don’t have to hold it in anymore. I learn the word cuesta and I can find out how much things cost…I learn the word ejercito (army), and then the story of Guatemala begins to unfold. The story of CIA organized coups, US supported massacres, kidnapped and tortured activists (many younger than me), North American and European corporations gobbling up this land and its people for centuries…the story of a country that many of us in the United States would have trouble even finding on a map (including myself, even four months ago!)…with each word I can come so much closer to a person, to buried histories…and it’s beautiful and endlessly satisfying.

But it’s exhausting too…as I find myself spending entire days trying to figure out what I want to say to my “host family” (I’m living with a mother and her two sons, 18 and 21 years old)…do I want to ask about movies, or do I just want to talk about food…not many options yet…and a couple of days ago I was just pacing around a group of stores because I was scared to go in and have to ask for la espuma (shaving creme)…because here in Xela, the stores are counters with their products behind them…so to buy something requires human interaction and communication…and each night I have no problem falling asleep, because my brain has been fully active for sixteen hours…trying to find the right endings to verbs…trying to figure out whether I’m saying “of” or “for,” trying to figure out just one more way to understand people’s stories…

I go to bed each night feeling full intellectually…but its impossible to sit completely comfortably here…because this is not my country…and my country does not have a pleasant history here…and my responsibilities, as someone who wants to struggle for justice in my country alongside folks struggling for justice here in Guatemala…my responsibilities feel very real to me…and that’s primarily why I’m here, learning Spanish…so I can be that much better at fighting for a better world alongside others…

…and it’s important to recognize how much farther ahead folks down here, in Latin America, are in that struggle than those of us in the States are…we have much to learn, and much to inspire us. I just want to keep gathering these stones…just want to keep listening and paying attention…

Currently Reading:

-Dispersing Power by Raul Zibechi

1 comment

I know exactly how you feel with the spanish language. Trying to find the right verbs and prefixes, whether it’s plural or not. If it’s feminine or masculine. There is so many things to think about for just a couple words or even just one. I took 2 years of spanish in high school, and i thought it was hard. I can only imagine what situations you get into. Trying to piece a couple of words together and how much brain power it takes. It is very exhausting. Well I hope all is well, down there. If it will help maybe i’ll try and send ya some emails partly in spanish, (if i can remember most of the stuff). It’s good to finally be in touch with you, I will send ya an email sometime! Hable con usted luego!