So my international organization this semester has been a little unconventional, because it is just getting off the ground.
The Global Engagement Fellowship group is rapidly growing as new members for the third ever group are being selected. As the group grows, it gets harder and harder to feel connected in the organization and even just to meet everyone. Aside from a biannual meeting, we really don’t see each other all at once. That is, until now! To improve the fellowship and promote more communication within the group, many new positions have been made (social media coordinators, internal mentor groups, etc.) I am going to be a mentor once it’s fully up and running, but for now it’s just in the planning stages. My role is complicated by the fact that I’ll be gone for the fall semester, but luckily, since the program is basically built around that, I am still able to be a part of it. I am excited to get to know more GEFs and to help people through situations that I had difficulty with when I was in their shoes.
This semester my internationally themed club has been CESL- the center for English as a second language. Through the program I was connected with a language partner- Luis. He would practice his English, I would practice my Spanish.
Luis is a Masters student from Colombia. He has been at OU for about a year. He speaks great English, especially in comparison to my Spanish. We meet once or twice a week to talk and hang out. I feel like my Spanish skills have improved a lot over the course of the semester. He has taught me some Spanish slang and steered me away from phrases that may be taught in English classes but aren’t commonly used in real life Spanish conversation. It has been really helpful to get these corrections and this practice time. I highly recommend the program to anyone looking to gain proficiency in a foreign language. This has definitely made me feel a lot better about the possibility of studying abroad in Spain next next semester. While I am far from fluency, I can almost always figure out some way to say what I want in conversation with Luis, even if it isn’t entirely correct. Hopefully studying abroad in Spain would only improve my speaking skills, even if it is uncomfortable and a little scary.
Luis has also recommended books and shows to me in Spanish. I have been watching a show on Netflix called El Cartel in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. Its kind of hard to follow along with all the jargon and slang so I have to rewind sometimes, but that has been helping, too. According to Luis it’s all based on a true story too and its been pretty dramatic so far.
Anyway, to sum all that up: if you want to learn a language, go to CESL ASAP. Its hard at first, but it will get easier.