Connecting with my Heritage

By Dominick Mendoza, Foster Undergraduate who participated in a Spanish intensive study abroad program in Granada, Spain. Dominick was a GBC Study Abroad Scholarship recipient. 

I studied abroad in Granada, Spain to learn Spanish in an intensive course. Spanish is a language my father spoke but I did not learn because he was busy trying to learn English. So this was an opportunity to connect with my heritage. As a part of that, I was encouraged to interact socially as often as possible. So I joined a Salsa dancing class.

For my last day of Salsa class, my instructor bought pastries and champagne to celebrate my time with them. My instructor, Teo, doesn’t speak any English. His wife, Imma, spoke some and instructed me from time to time. They and the class loved me even though I spoke broken Spanish to them and couldn’t understand much of what they were telling me.

Over the pastries and champagne we exchanged my phone, using Google Translate to talk to each other. I spent two hours doing this, laughing and smiling with them. Upon parting, they gave me a free T-shirt to remember my time dancing with them, not that I could forget.

This experience taught me how easy affection and attachment can be to gain. Despite a language barrier, we communicated through gestures and grew fond of each other in the process. It’s a lesson I hope to share with people here at home.