Happy New Year, MALT members! I want to begin 2019 with a wish for all of you that you find those activities and colleagues that lift up your spirits and inspire you to do things that improve the quality of your life. I spent much of my 2018 worrying about what the future was going to bring, and dreading the inevitable. This year I am vowing to live more in the minute and enjoy as much time as possible with my family and friends, and celebrating the positives in my life. I invite each of you to join me in this commitment to focusing on the positives in your lives.
So in January, think about the students who were always a pleasure to have in your class and that you continue to connect with now that they are adults. Last year at this time I received a Facebook message from a former student asking when would be a good time to call because, “he had news” for me. When we connected by phone, he wanted to tell be about a trip he was planning to Spain and could he pick my brain about where we stayed and our itinerary from a trip we had taken with a group over 10 years ago. As we talked about the different cities we toured, and places I have visited since that trip, he began to put together the details for his own itinerary. It was fun to have him send me photos of his trip last March and think about helping him in his first ever journey abroad.
Then this fall, my phone pinged during my lunch break with a message from this same student, two photos and the question, “Where am I, Señora?” I looked at the photos and saw very old fortress-style structures and the ocean. I started to think about all of the sites we had seen together in Spain, but the pictures didn’t fit. I noticed that in one picture there was a sign talking about the significance of the area. Since the sign was in English first and Spanish second, I sent him this message, “Puerto Rico!” I have never been to El Moro, but it is on my bucket list, and I am happy to have that experience that I have a former student who wanted to share this experience with me too.
The last day of school before Christmas break I had some surprise visitors. Four of my AP Spanish students from last year came by for a visit. Three of the four are continuing to study Spanish, and spoke of their experiences with the placement exams at their schools. One of the four has travelled with me twice, once to Costa Rica and the second time to Spain. She has plans to do a semester abroad next fall, and is able to do so fairly quickly because of her four years of Spanish before entering college. Her study abroad may also include an opportunity to work at an orphanage in Guatemala for part of her time. Listening to their enthusiasm as they talked about their classes and experiences with their roommates (both good and bad) made me so excited for their futures and the future of our country.
So, in 2019 I vow to focus on the positive. As my colleague, Teresa Mountains, and I prepare our students who will travel with us to Costa Rica in June, we will continue to share stories of past trips and look forward to the new memories we will be able to add to our own travel journals. I have helped a student buy a guitar in Spain, and held a students’ hand who suddenly froze on the way down from the top of the El Castilo at Chichen Itza. I have eaten termites in Costa Rica to show kids not to be afraid of strange foods, and walked an extra mile in the evening to get the “BEST” gelato in Madrid. These experiences make me smile, and having students come back to share stories about those trips is a huge benefit of being a language teacher. I hope all of you have similar stories to share when we have the next opportunity to chat in Dillon, Montana, in April. Until then, Happy New Year and focus on the positive!