Tuesday, September 10, 2013
El Supermercado Mexicano
For this class we had to do a field experience where we did something related to another culture that we were not familiar with to experience the traditions, values, and demographics. After the experience we needed to write about it on our class blogs. The most common thing for people to do is go to a religious service. I decided against that and wanted to go somewhere they spoke a different language since I want to work with English Language Learners eventually. I ended up going to La Mexicana, a Mexican grocery store in Painesville based on a recommendation from my friend who is Mexican.
My whole intention of going was to speak in Spanish However, I chicken out really easily when it comes to talking Spanish because I am so bad. I don't even like speaking Spanish to one of my best friends because I'm afraid he'll judge me for not being able to have a Spanish accent or role my R's. This field experience was really good for me though. It got me to understand what my future ESL students might be feeling in a country where they don't know the language. I was too intimidated to speak Spanish because I did not want the women working at the store to make fun of me! Pathetic, I know. It was like I had to give a presentation in high school all over again. But it really put me in the perspective of a student who may also be intimidated to speak, and it got me thinking of all the things I could do to make my classroom warm and inviting for someone who knows little to no English.
It was a bit of a culture shock walking into the store. It's a lot different than going to a Mexican Restaurant. I understood a lot of what I read because my Spanish is much better when I can see the words in front of me. For a while, I was the only white person. The only other white person that was in the store was fluent in Spanish, which made things even more intimidating. No one there treated me any differently, although where were a few kids who stopped and stared at me. Maybe I had something in my teeth? For a short while I did feel like I was in a different country. Everyone in the store was speaking Spanish, except a few children, of a the white woman, who went back and forth between Spanish and English. I liked being able to try to pick out words, but my understanding of spoken Spanish is the worst.
Towards the end of the trip I just wanted to get out of there because I just felt so out of place and I knew I wasn't going to speak Spanish. My cashier did seem to know very little English, but she still said "Have a good day" in English. I did manage to get out a "Gracias (Thank you)" and she answered me back with "De nada (You're welcome)." I must admit that was one of the most intimidating experiences I have ever lived through. I think it's time I experience more of a world outside of my white suburban hometown!
Image of my grocery store purchases came from my Instagram. You can view it here.