An intercambio is essentially an exchange of language – and here there are many groups that do intercambios in various languages; people looking to improve upon the language of their choice. For me, the obvious intercambio choice would be Spanish. But I’m not so into the formal intercambios that get together… I like something that’s just a bit more organic. Let me introduce you to Jose.
So who is Jose you ask? Jose works in the building next to Aidan & Liam’s bus stop. And every day since Aidan began school last January he comes outside for his break when I am waiting for the school bus. Our conversations started off slowly – we went from hola and como esta usted? To talking about the weather, talking about our children (his are my age and he has no grandkids yet), about vacations, the kids’ school, my work and Josh’s work and really pretty much everything under the sun, poco a poco (little by little) at least.
This is my daily informal intercambio and Jose is the only one that I do this with on a regular basis. I’m motivated by these conversations because I don’t want to say the same old thing day in and day out so as I walk to the bus stop I try to review in my head those topics that (a) I want to discuss and (b) that I want to discuss and can actually figure out some of the words in Spanish in which to discuss them! I know that he would never judge me for not knowing the words I want to use, but this is still good motivation – while there is no pressure except that I put on myself, to me it is pressure for me to learn so that Jose will want to continue to talk to me. And today knowing that I was writing this entry, I was prepared for my best intercambio yet and was so thrilled when we actually had what I could essentially deem a conversation rather than just small talk.
It is people like Jose that encourage me to continue with my studies and who have shown me the patience that I wish more people (including myself) possessed. After 8 months you would think he would have changed his break time so he wouldn’t have to torture himself with my limited Spanish capabilities, but no, every day he is there and every day we talk about something, anything. And I look forward to these conversations every day. Jose, thanks for the encouragement – one of these days I promise we will have a full conversation, pantomime free!