Hello and happy Thursday. We’re currently seventeen and freezing our butts in a high school in Middle of Nowhere, Maine. We just met our host and realized she’s kind of a nerd, but thankfully we’ve been saved by two very tall and very white angels we’ll call Eileen and Becky. And now we’re ready for the next part of our story.
Just like in the school in Philly, there was a welcome event for us, which was held in the auditorium. There, the principal and the Spanish teacher (who wasn’t even a Latina, but okay) welcomed us. Turns out the students that were hosting us were all taking Spanish classes. I remember thinking, “okay, at least Ruth has something in common with this other people, and at least maybe they all think taking Spanish classes is cool or something.”
I also remember when I realized that it wasn’t that Ruth, my host, was an outcast because other people pushed her away. She was actually the one who isolated herself. Of course, within twenty minutes of meeting her I couldn’t have noticed that, but now that I can put all these things in perspective, I know that others tried to include her and she’d refuse. An example of this was the fact that we saved her a seat in the auditorium and she decided to sit in the back.
Ruth didn’t sit alone, don’t worry. She sat next to one of my Colombian classmates, we’ll call her Irene. Turns out Irene was also Ruth’s guest, but she didn’t have any school hosts like I did. She was stuck with Ruth. Irene suffered a lot through that week, more than I did, that’s for sure, but we’ll get to that later.
I told my two new super model best friends about this guy with whom I’d flirted in Philadelphia. We’ll leave him nameless, but if you want to know that part of the story, let me know in the comments. I mean, there are few things that make girls bond quicker than talking about crushes, right? Ugh, I know, I hated myself for that too.
After the assembly we went to the gym and I could meet all the other people. I think right then and there I spotted a man who we’ll call Joshua and who, inadvertently, awakened deep sexual feelings I didn’t even know I could have. Eileen and Becky weren’t there, but for some reason I didn’t feel like I needed them in order to mingle with the other people. I didn’t see Ruth or Irene around, which was odd.
When I saw her, my Colombian friend, I knew something was wrong. You see, Irene was a cheerleader, one of those people everyone likes, a person who deserved Eileen as her host and not Ruth. Irene started crying, but it was obvious that she didn’t want to make a scene. I mean, as miserable as she felt, I don’t think she wanted to hurt Ruth’s feelings. This scene is not very clear to me, but I think at that moment two of our Colombian teachers left the gym and had us follow them. I don’t remember what we told them, if we said anything at all because it’s not like Irene could say “my host is an outcast, I want someone else.” Anyway, we went back to the gym, back to the mingling.
I knew we were in for a very tough week when I saw Ruth’s mom. You interpret that piece of information any way you want to because I don’t want to offend anyone. She she said we needed to shop at Walmart, and let me tell you, that was pretty much the highlight of our day. Why, you ask. Well, let’s just say both Irene and I are the kind of people who take shopping seriously.
We got suitcases and nail polish and I bought board markers of colors you couldn’t get in Colombia at the time, and we even bought a set of carry-on bags because that stuff wouldn’t fit our large suitcases. And while we did, we tried to get Ruth involved. Honestly, we tried, but she would rather hover behind us like a very tall bodyguard than engage in conversation or participate in the madness.
On our way home Irene told me that she was having a hard time understanding Ruth’s mom’s accent. She, by the way, told us to call her Mama Susan, which was never going to happen. Anyways, I got that Irene couldn’t understand some of what she was saying, and I also got that she probably felt a little intimidated speaking in English, so I offered to translate for her. It was particularly tough for me to translate Susan’s story about how she ran over a deer and then asked the police officer to strap it to her car so that she could cook it for dinner. And it had nothing to do with not having the appropriate English level, trust me. I think at that moment Irene and I shared the same thought: “And these people are supposed to be the ones from the first world? Oh wow.”
I will admit now that after the story, and after I was done translating, I forgot to switch back to English and kept speaking in Spanish with Irene. I will admit that it was rude that we were having a conversation that neither Ruth nor Susan could understand, but we were just trying to wrap our minds around what we’d just been told.
Now we’re almost done with day one, but I’ll leave that part for next week. In the comments below tell me about an experience that involved a culture shock for you.
Love, Miss Camila