Coming into Ecuador my biggest fear was the language barrier, in my host family and at my apprenticeship. I knew almost zero spanish when I first arrived to Ecuador and as you can imagine within these last 3 1/2 months I’ve had many embarrassing moments. One moment in particular that stands out to me, a moment that my cohort and I have turned into not only a embarrassing moment but also a teaching moment.
For my apprenticeship here in Ecuador I work at a center for people with disabilities. After my first week of work…. we changed locations. Me and my co workers were at the new center preparing for it to open. We were cleaning, painting, and doing yard work. Since we were doing all of this work I needed gloves, not really knowing the word for gloves in spanish, I still proceeded to tell me supervisor what I needed. I was very much just improvising when speaking to him and then I remembered once hearing the word “glovos” somewhere, assuming that word meant gloves I told my supervisor… “Necesito glovos”. He looked at me very confused, and said “porque”. My spanish being very bad at the time I didn’t know how to explain what I needed gloves for… I timidly pointed outside because we were doing yard work , and quietly said again “glovos”. He still seemed very confused, at this point I’m very frustrated and embarrassed, I pointed to my hands and said “ Necesito glovos por mis manos”. Finally a woman who happened to be watching this interaction (interested in why I didn’t know spanish) saw me point to me hands and she said to me “¿Necesitas juantes? JUANTES… gloves in spanish is JUANTES. I later on googled glovos in spanish, it means BALLOONS…… I was asking my supervisor for balloons for my hands, while in the middle of yard work at our center. I couldn’t have been more embarrassed.
After telling that story to my cohort at DBC2 and laughing about it for a minute. We all came to the realization we will now always remember the word for gloves & balloons in spanish thanks to my embarrassing moment, and hopefully now you do to. 😉