“Now look, your grace,” said Sancho, “what you see over there aren’t giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone.”
“Obviously,” replied Don Quijote, “you don’t know much about adventures.”
-Migueal De Cervantes, Don Quixote
What better (or, in a different light, more cliche) way to start the documentation of my semester internship in Spain than with a Don Quixote quote?
I have begun to relate to that errant knight now more than ever. Not so much in a, “I’m going to save the world and win the heart of a maiden,” sense (then again, who knows, anything could happen), but in a, “the most adventurous thing I’ve ever done is read about other people’s adventures,” sort of way. But not this time. No, this time I will be doing the adventuring, and I will be writing about it for others to read.
My whole life I’ve been a reader, an observer. I have always prefered to watch other people; to learn. Roles are being reversed. My internship in Seville will see me teaching English. I will be observed, and people will learn from me. Which feels like an immense amount of responsibility. Especially when paired with the fact that my Spanish, though adequate in the sterile confines of a classroom… has not been tested in the real world yet. How can I inspire others to learn a second language when I have only taken the first steps myself?
Teachers should lead by example. My current example is a few college courses, Duolingo practices, and the earnest want to live up to my own expectations – vague as they may be. The only thing I know, with conviction, is that I believe learning languages, and, by extension, other cultures, can lead to understanding and empathy. Perhaps on an individual level only, but is there a better way to start than that?
I am impossibly excited to finally use what I’ve been learning, but at the same time, I am not sure what I am doing and feel petrified by both the infinite amount of “ifs” of my soon-to-be reality.
There is a definite sense of jumping into the unknown, and I’m jumping alone – no Sancho Panza to keep me from getting too hurt – only myself and a small lifetime’s worth of knowledge that has yet to be truly tested.
A part of me hopes that, looking back, these giants on my horizon are only windmills.
The other part wants to fight some giants.