Today’s post is going to be a bit of departure from our normal food writing, but I want you all to meet Gaby, our Amity Intern!
A lot of you know that my kids go/went to a Spanish Immersion Elementary school here in Minneapolis. That means that my kids get the vast majority of their instruction in Spanish. Our school hosts “interns” from Amity every year and this year we decided to join in the fun and host one in our home! Read on for why we decided to do this and the beginning of our experience!
I firmly believe in the notion of One World. We are all human and the sum of our experiences make us so much stronger. I decided early on to give my kids the gift of language, by enrolling them in a Spanish Immersion Elementary School where they would not only learn math and reading, but would learn all of it in a whole new language (Spanish). I wanted them to be exposed to cultures other than ours. I wanted them to understand that there were many types of people in the world and many ways to do things and that was a REALLY great thing.
The first few weeks each of my kids were in kindergarten, they were exhausted. They had to pay attention 100% of the time in order to understand what was going on and what was expected of them. The amazing thing was how quickly their little 5 year old brains began incorporating the language. By second semester in kindergarten they were clearly understanding and even beginning to communicate using Spanish. Now my third grader can carry on a conversation without difficulty. My high schooler is near fluent. The program works!
Our Spanish Immersion School hosts interns from Amity each year in order to expose the kids to more culture, more dialects, and more native speakers. These Amity “interns” are young adults who are studying English and/or Education in Universities in their own countries and agree to come to the United States for their own immersive experience. These interns go through a rigorous interview process in their home countries to qualify for their student visas, and for most of them it is their first time in the United States. They work really hard in the school, helping the teachers, interacting with the kids, and providing the kids with more Spanish conversations.
We had not been previously involved with the program in our school, other than getting to know the specific interns that have worked directly in our kids classes in school. As I have a lot on my plate with a full time job, 2 kids with various activities, this blog to manage/write/maintain, and a lot of chaos in my schedule, it had never occured to me to host one of these interns. It seemed like too daunting of a task. This year, however, they were inviting more interns than we had had previously, as we now have Spanish Immersion “graduates” at the middle school and high school and therefore more kids that would benefit from interaction with these enthusiastic native speakers. They needed more host families.
I mentioned it out loud in the car driving back from the cabin, and my kids jumped all over it. They thought it would be a great idea to have an Amity Intern live with us. We were excited about learning about another culture. We were excited about showing off our beautiful city. We were excited about all of the conversations my kids could have in Spanish at home! We decided to go for it.
Enter Gaby, our Amity intern from El Salvador. As soon as Gaby was assigned to our family, we skyped with her and loved her immediately. We got her room ready and ran around stocking it with things we thought she would need. Gaby arrived in Minnesota last month and has become a part of our family almost overnight. She is kind, enthusiastic, and fits in perfectly. She is so brave to come and spend a school year in Minnesota with a family she doesn’t know, in a country she has never visited!
We’ve had a blast starting to show her the city! We’ve gone to Hola Arepa, to Copper Cow, dancing at Champps (thanks Mark Miller Band), to Starbucks, to the Mall of America, to a performance at the high school, and up to our lake cabin. We’ve gone to Target and to several of our local grocery stores. We’ve shown her American food and she has taught us how to make pupusas! We have attempted to show her real life here in the United States. She gets on the bus in the morning with our youngest and works all day with the kindergartners. She honestly seems to love it and has a real talent for working with kids!
We’ve been so lucky to meet Gaby and learn about her life in El Salvador. It’s been fun to learn about how different things are in El Salvador, but more importantly, how many things are the same! She is improving the Spanish of everyone in the house but especially the kids! If you ever have the opportunity to host an Amity Intern, definitely consider it. The benefits are amazing!