SPANISH 101: Dominican Style
Before I set foot in La Ramona, I didn’t speak a word of Spanish. I probably should have worked on that a little bit before I arrived, but between finals at Colby and packing for the trip, I didn’t have the time to be spending memorizing vocabulary. Nevertheless, within the first few days of being in the Dominican, I began to pick up quite a few words. Some of my current knowledge can be credited to my constant questions of “How do you say this?”, but most of my Spanish came from the oddest situations. I learned the words for age, address, and telephone number when I was asked to fill out insurance paperwork in the Emergency room and had to figure out the English translations. When I worked in the vitals section of the bateyes, I found the most useful phrases to learn were, “put the thermometer under your tongue”, “wait there for a physician”, and “hold out your arm”. In the pharmacy, writing out medicine labels over and over and over again helped cement in my mind the word pastillas, or “pills”. And finally, the numbers 1-20 now come to me easily after working for 2 hours in a deworming station, where I had to ask the children and teens how old they were, and give them the appropriate dose of “Viperacin”. These odd jobs haven’t been the most traditional ways of learning Spanish, but each situation has been incredibly more effective than the typical classroom setting, as the result of miscommunication here results in incorrect medication dose or vitals results, rather than a bad test grade. I’d say the stakes are slightly higher, but I feel as if I have done pretty well, and I cannot wait to see what other unique experiences I will take part in, and what new words they’ll help me to learn.
Cassie is serving in the Dominican Republic from June 2 to July 3. To follow Cassie while she serves in the Dominican Republic, click here.