Story by Chris McCoy and photo by Kim Groves
The other day I was waiting for a bus, when I heard a man behind me say in English, “Excuse me, what time is it?” I looked at my watch and even though he asked me in English, for some reason I tried to answer in Spanish. But as is often the case when I have to speak Spanish on the spot, the words were reluctant in coming, “Er, a las dos y, um, y media, no como uh dos y viente…” He looked as if he couldn’t understand me (and who could blame him), so I finally gave him the time in English. I should have realized that he didn’t really want to know the time; he just saw an opportunity to practice his English. After that we had a short chat in English, and he asked me all the standard questions: where are you from, what’s your name, what are you doing in Mexico, and so on.
Then he asked if I had ever heard of Teotitlán del Valle. I was taken aback by his question because I was at that very moment on my way to Teotitlán to teach English for En Vía. He said he was from there and that he knows many people who don’t know English but they want to learn. I told him a little about the En Vía English program, and how we give free classes every Tuesday and Thursday in Teotitlán to anyone who is interested, regardless of their ability, age or gender. He seemed excited about the program and promised to tell everyone he knows about our English classes. Which is good for us because word travels fast in a community as interconnected as Teotitlán.
Happily, interactions like this are a common occurrence in Oaxaca. And Jose, the guy who struck up a conversation with me is just one of countless examples of the friendly spirit that is in such abundance in Teotitlán. I can only hope our English classes will give our students opportunities to share some of that friendly spirit with even more people.
If you would like to volunteer to teach with En Vía, please contact us. We are always looking for dedicated volunteers interested in making an impact on people’s lives.