Everyone is hoping Katy is in the same family stay house as they are. Katy is the only person in our delegation who really knows any amount of Spanish.
A junior and double major in biology and Spanish, Katy said she’s much more comfortable reading and writing in the language than speaking it. She says she’s far from fluent and gaining proficiency in the spoken language is one of the reasons she wanted to travel to Nicaragua in the first place.
The other reason: “Exposure to a culture and living conditions and how different they are. I grew up in a middle-class, white neighborhood,” Katy said during one of our preparation meetings. Like many members of the group, she’s expecting her outlook and priorities to be shifted by what she sees and experiences in Nicaragua. And she’ll gain some language skills, too.
We’ve been told not to expect to meet many English speakers during our 16 days in Nicaragua. Our guides from ProNica and those who will visit with us at various community organizations will speak English, and some people working in the more tourist-exposed city of Granada may as well.
“Overall, no one speaks English, unless they work at the airport or as tour guides,” Rick Ellis told the group during preparations. This will be his sixth trip to the country with Washburn students and the university’s seventh trip over all.
The prospect of predominantly communicating non-verbally for several days is a bit daunting for some of the group. It all will be part of our Washburn Transformational Experience.
We’ve all been taught the phrase “Que es esto?” or “What is this?” so we can ask for the word of something we’re holding or pointing to. Hopefully, we’ll each build some vocabulary during our four days with the families of El Limón at in time spent with expecting mothers and children during our other stops. Some of us will dig back in our memories for high school Spanish, too.
The other phrase we all know: “Dónde está Katy?” It’s been something to chuckle about at home, but it will be interesting to see how often we use that one.
Any advice for us before we go?