by Erik Bingham
My name is Erik Bingham and I am currently a junior taking SPAN 232. I
signed up for this class because it is very practical to my goals for studying
Spanish. Hopefully in the future I will be able to use my Spanish skills in my
career and/or personal life and I feel that the objectives of this class are exactly
what I need to practice. Its not enough to get A’s on all my tests in Spanish
class because my ultimate goal for learning the language isn’t to get a good
grade- it is to interact with the Spanish speaking community.
I have been studying Spanish ever since I was a freshman in high school
and finally had the chance to put my years of work into action. Last semester I
went to Alicante, Spain and had the time of my life. In Spain I took classes
completely in Spanish, lived with a Spanish family, and got to make some
Spanish friends. I was immersed in the culture and the language and found that
I could get by just fine although it was difficult. Over those five months in
Spain my Spanish kept getting better and better as I had the opportunity to use
it everyday. My only regret is not staying a full year in Spain.
I have already had some community service experience with the Spanish
speaking community. In the summer of 2008 I went with my church on a service
trip to a small town called Chincha Alta in Peru. The summer before the trip
there was a terrible earthquake that destroyed many peoples’ houses and lives.
While we were only there for a week we did a couple things to help the
community. We laid the concrete foundation of the new church being built on the
ruins of the old one and also led a Vacation Bible School at an orphanage for
little girls. Everyone in the community that we worked with was extremely
grateful that we came down there to help out. That was rewarding in itself.
My second experience with Spanish volunteering was an English class I
taught to disabled adults in Spain. I had never taught any sort of class before
this so I have to admit that I was pretty nervous and unorganized but I got to
learn as I went. It was exciting to hear people who had previously never
spoken any sentence in English to be able to understand us in class and also
learn phrases and some grammar. I also walked home with one of my students who
lived close to my host family. After a couple days of walking home together I
became somewhat of his English mentor and also his friend.
My hope for this class is that I will be able to use my Spanish skills
outside of the classroom like I did in Spain. I want to have a professional
experience translating, communicating, and doing general office work at
ECIRMAC. I am also thinking about volunteering at one of the Urbana schools but
as of the moment have not done so.