I love walking around DC. Often, on walks around DC (whether purposeful walks somewhere or wandering walks) I run into people that say “hi” to me in Spanish. I love that people can greet me in my native language, but what I love more is that for many of them, I was one of the people that taught them. I have been a volunteer Spanish teacher with the Global Language Network for seven years, pretty much since I first moved to DC. In these years I’ve taught 11 classes, which means that there are around 200 people walking around my favorite city in the world who know my favorite language in the world partly because of an effort I made.
I use “effort” very loosely in that last sentence. It’s an effort to give up study time, and happy hours and Zumba to teach a class that you are not getting paid for. It is. But it’s not an effort the way vacuuming or scheduling cable appointments is an effort. I love teaching and I love my language in a way that I could never, ever love vacuuming or scheduling cable appointments. So the “effort” of giving up the happy hour or the Zumba class seems well worth it. This is especially true later, when I see a former student on the street and he or she says “hola Fabi” to me.
Washington, DC is without a doubt my favorite city in the world. Teaching Spanish with GLN helps me make a small contribution to the city that I live in and love. By giving my time and my expertise to this organization, I help make sure that people come closer to understanding where I came from, and it helps keep me close to the city that I grew up in. Most importantly, I feel that by teaching Spanish I am helping to make sure that nobody in this city ever says “Yo quiero Taco Bell” to me. And that, I think we can agree, is huge.
Though all the teachers are volunteers, the work of the GLN is not free. The GLN supports teachers like me by helping us pay for metro fare when we have to travel far for classes, it rewards us with certificates at the end of each term and sometimes gets us coffee when we have to work on Saturdays at 9am. Giving to GLN on #GivingTuesday helps to make sure that our organization has the resources we need to keep our Teaching Fellows happy and classes running. More importantly, it helps the GLN work to have a worldly, cool Washington, DC. An amazing city in which people don’t butcher other people’s languages and never, ever say “yo quiero Taco Bell.” That’s worth a lot.
Fabiana Perera, GLN Teaching Fellowship Alumna