This could be your classmate
For this month's progress report, volunteer Lisa Winthagen has written about her experience taking classes with her Spanish teacher. Read on for a great description of her experience!
It was a long journey from The Netherlands, it took nearly three days of flights and layovers but I finally arrive in Ollantaytambo. It was a long drive, but now I see why. The stunning scenery and the surrounding mountains are overwhelming. So are the people around me. Some are speaking Spanish, but what is that other language? I’ve never heard it before. I am consumed with a feeling to see, smell and taste all that Ollantaytambo has to offer. But how do I handle the language and cultural barrier?
This is a perfect example of a visitor’s first day in town, feeling overwhelmed and out of place is ever-present. I was no exception: a new Awamaki volunteer. This is the point where Awamaki’s teachers step in. The profesoras provide the tools to learn as much as possible about life in Ollantaytambo.
During their first week, every Awamaki volunteer receives a crash course of cultural orientation, fully taught in Spanish. These are not your typical lessons. They never take place in a classroom. You learn about the Spanish language and the local culture by being immersed in it.
While walking around the town, I learned more and more about Ollantaytambo, through a trip to the market to taste different fruits and then a hike up the mountain to learn about the Incan history. When I turned around from the climb, I saw a stunning view over the whole town. And I finally felt like I was where I was supposed to be.
Whilst these lessons are very useful for the students, they also help the teachers. All those which Awamaki employ are very motivated to help their students but are also very eager to learn from them. Our cultural exchange happened so naturally and was extremely helpful for both teacher and student.
As soon as I started my cultural orientation, I felt a want to keep learning more of the language and immerse myself fully. The enthusiasm and liveliness of the teachers is contagious and fed my desire to learn. It keeps everybody progressing individually but also collaboratively.
Ultimately, the course shows a genuine introduction to the Ollantaytambo community. And the best part is, anyone can take it! Any visitor open to a fresh perspective can enroll in the cultural immersion. The energy of the profesoras comes from the pride they have in their town, and in the lessons they designed themselves. Your continuous support is what has enabled our teachers to create these lessons and shape my experiences. Thank you!
Lisa Winthagen, Awamaki Volunteer
Thank you Lisa for being part of our programs, and helping us thank our wonderful donors!
Now that is a classroom with a view!