Students in the Social Change in Central America study abroad program benefit from one-on-one Spanish language courses during the Guatemala portion of the multi-country experience. In other words, each individual student is assigned a teacher. A former student writes about his experience.
At 8am, Xela, Guatemala is refreshingly chilly. I am on the street and making the five minute walk to Spanish Class. El Proyecto Linguistico Quetzalteco (PLQ) has become much more than a Language School for me; it is truly my second home during our stay in Guatemala. Famous for being one of the longest-running Spanish immersion schools in the region, PLQ Spanish school in Guatemala draws students from all over the world. On our first day of classes, we are introduced to our teacher, and shown to area that will be our work space. On many days, we sit one-on- one at this table, talking not only about verbs and conjugations, but also of Guatemala’s history, politics, and the country’s future. My morning is broken up by trips to refill my coffee mug, moments of chit chat with fellow students and their teachers, or a trip to the roof top patio with its breath taking view of the city.
I love getting to know my teacher. He is an expert in the Spanish language with years of experience in making sense of the language for learners. He is also a living history book, a witness to so many of the historical and social realities we are learning about each day during the Social Change in Central America study abroad program. He brings everything down to earth for me, allows me to see the human side of things, the faces and stories not captured in statistics or political rhetoric. When he senses that my attention is straying, we change things up by taking a stroll to the Central Park. He points out objects, telling me to name them in Spanish and to identify their color and shape in Spanish. We buy pastries and coffee which provides the opportunity to practice ordering in Spanish. We get a mid-morning break and the school buzzes with conversation and laughter. Over coffee and sweet bread, I check in my fellow students and take my turn at the foosball table with three of the teachers..
I spend the remainder of the morning with students who share my same level of Spanish. We read news paper articles and analyze the daily news with our teachers. Class adjourns at 1pm and I head out the door and down the street to have lunch with my Guatemalan homestay family. At lunch with them, I will try out some new phrases my teacher has taught me. The school hosts us for a documentary and hot chocolate in the evening. I amazed how at home I feel after just a few weeks studying abroad in Guatemala; I have PLQ to thank for the welcome and camaraderie.