by Flora Ramirez
While I am still working with CLACS, I am consistently spending more time working with La Línea. I must admit that I underestimated the fast-paced nature of this position. This is derived from La Línea’s genuine understanding that life is unplanned. Thus, they tailor their services to meet the unpredictability that characterizes the lives of individuals. This means that the hours of operation are more flexible and prompt responses are crucial.
Even though the variance in the hours of operation can make it difficult to keep track of my hours, I appreciate how closely this position reflects real life community activism. The duties entailed at La Linea never appear to remain static. By these I mean that people can call about real life problems and so their concerns are wide-ranging. I will confess that when I realized people could call to ask for help with just about anything, I was a bit apprehensive.
However, I soon realized that one of the reasons behind La Línea’s success is how effectively they can draw from existing resources. Francisco Baires, the Community Programs Director, does a magnificent job of designating calls to specific volunteers he feels could best formulate a solution. Furthermore, he does not simply distribute cases among student volunteers, but he consistently checks in to offer you contacts that could help inform your approach.
My work with La Linea is teaching me how to respond to situations quickly and efficiently. Out of necessity I had to learn to be confident in my abilities to resolve problems. Furthermore, as I relayed information back to our community members in Spanish I had to grow accustomed to thinking on my feet and translating on the spot. This has in turn allowed me to become more comfortable with my own Spanish.
I have also learned to value the casual Spanish abilities that have been instilled in me since I was a child. I have found myself drawing from simple jokes or sayings my parents had always told me. I never thought about how valuable my experiences could be in situations that are not always the best. When my relationship with community members is most often limited to over the phone interaction, making these personable connections is necessary in order to gain their trust. Realizing the importance of this ability I will not forget to continue striving towards building my Spanish from both the lessons in class and the conversations I have taken for granted at home.