Why I’m here and why Spanish is important to me

Hi! Just to introduce myself…I’m Keshia, founder and CEO of Bridge the Gap Language Services. I speak two languages, English and Spanish; and, I aspire to learn French…I’m sure I’ll get there soon enough.

How did I learn Spanish? Hmm…where do I begin?? At a very young age (probably around 9 or 10), I started taking private lessons from Mrs. Anna. Oh, I know private lessons sound fancy, but it wasn’t like that at all. At the time, my parents lived paycheck to paycheck, and I admire them because they financially sacrificed at times so that my siblings and I could be well-rounded students. At $10 a class, Mrs. Anna would teach me and my sister from a colorful, illustrated Spanish workbook for kids. I remember Spanish class with Mrs. Anna being one thing that I looked forward to every other week, not just because I had a knack at learning it, but because I couldn’t wait to learn more about Mrs. Anna, hear her beautiful accent, and interact with her family. Classes with Mrs. Anna did something for me that the next couple of phases of my Spanish education couldn’t…it connected the language to the culture for me. And, I was completely fascinated.

Although an hour-long class every other week didn’t get me too far in learning Spanish, I am forever grateful for the time that I did get to spend with Mrs. Anna over the 2-3 years that she taught me. In high school, I expressed interest in continuing to learn Spanish, so my parents invested in Rosetta Stone. Ha do you remember Rosetta Stone? As one of the very first softwares produced to learn language, Rosetta Stone had so many features that now would be considered to be outdated for sure. I remember I used to have a USB-connected microphone that I would use to try repeating after the automated voice. I could almost NEVER get it to accept my repeated phrases, and it was so frustrating! Looking back, I laugh though because it just goes to show that even now no software can replace person-to-person communication when it comes to learning a language. Honestly and unfortunately, I don’t think I learned anything with Rosetta Stone over the year or so that I used it.

My next interaction with Spanish education was in college. One of my very last semesters at Kansas State University, I took a class that I will forever remember, Spanish 101 with my teacher Sarah. Sarah was a graduate student at the time, and although I already had a love for Spanish and Latin American culture, her passion for it only fueled mine! The class was an easy A for me, and I learned so much!

You’re probably wondering where this story is going, but hold on…I’m just about to get to the good part! My senior year in college, I had no idea where I was headed. I had originally wanted to go to medical school, so I had enrolled as a pre-med student. However, after volunteering in the hospital close to campus and other experiences, I realized that being a doctor was not for me. I dropped my pre-med option and took several weeks to think about where I wanted my life to head. I had an impression, which I believe was from God, that I needed to spend a year abroad. Although very hesitant to do so, mainly because I didn’t see a long-term plan that would result from that decision, I decided to pack my bags and go to a missions base in Oaxaca, Mexico where I would go to Roca Blanca Spanish School and begin teaching English to a group of mostly college-aged students. At the time, I had NO IDEA how this drastic decision would completely change the trajectory of my life. I learned Spanish in an immersive way and realized through teaching English that teaching languages was my passion!

Passion is a weird thing, and please don’t ask me how to find it, because I honestly have no idea. But from my experience, it seems to me that it has something to do with things and interests that are threaded throughout your life. And, sometimes these threads can be hard to find and/or recognize. But, as long as we are open to it, all it takes is one moment or one experience for you to see that it’s been there all this time. It was truly an internal struggle for me to replace my original plan of going into the medical field with what at the time seemed like a “cop out” move to get out of the country for a while and figure out what I was doing. In a way though, this “step back” that I finally surrendered to and jumped all into was actually a step forward.

So when I tell my students that learning Spanish is a journey, I truly mean that. For me, it was almost a 10 year journey; it was slow and gradual and then it happened all at once because of the immersion experience that I was blessed to have. Everyone’s journey isn’t like that though, and I like to encourage people to lean into their own journeys because you don’t know what you might find along the way. And because the journey can sometimes get lonely and even discouraging along the way, everyone needs a Mrs. Anna. Everyone needs a Sarah. Everyone needs someone to guide them along. For me, that was so important as I built the language learning model for Bridge the Gap.

So there’s my story…that’s why I’m here and why Spanish is so important to me. Thank you for reading!

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