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Myra Hutto, Clemson University

21 Sep 2016

For Spanish 2010 at Clemson University, I had to complete a thirty-minute conversation. In Spanish, we had to have a conversation about family: our personal family and families in our countries. I was afraid I wouldn’t know what to say, or that I wouldn’t be able to understand a native speaker quickly to be able to respond. I went onto the TalkAbroad website, and I was staring nervously at the countdown. When the clock reached five minutes before the conversation began, I was tempted to leave and not complete the thirty-minutes I knew would be long and torturous. However, I was surprised.

I spoke with Milca Rosero who is a native speaker of Ecuador. She exceeded my expectations of the conversation and more. As I said before, I was anxious that I wouldn’t perform well because it was a lot of pressure to speak in Spanish for thirty-minutes. Also, I am always uncomfortable with video chatting, but this was different. Milca calmed my fears and began the conversation smoothly.

Milca did not allow the embarrassing moments with silent pauses; instead, she was engaged in the conversation from the beginning until the end. It wasn’t just me asking her questions and her not reciprocating. She was interactive and curious about who I was, as well. The conversation eased into information about Ecuador, and I learned a lot. I learned more than just the topic of family, which was the focus of the conversation. I learned about the differences between Ecuador and Colombia where the money exchange is different and how Colombia’s money is not as valuable as Ecuador. Also, Milca taught me that Ecuador uses dollars, as well. Also, I became aware that the families in Ecuador were similar to America in the fact that there are increasing numbers of single parents.

During our conversation, I was trying to explain that my dad is a heart doctor. I couldn’t remember the word for heart, so I begin to draw a heart on my chest. Instead of pretending like she didn’t know what I meant, she told me the word for heart in Spanish. It was funny because I am obviously not fluent in Spanish. She understood that I was not the best at speaking Spanish, but instead of having awkward silent moments, she laughed through them with me, which made the conversation feel inviting instead of nerve-racking.

I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fill the thirty-minutes with flowing conversation, but I was able to because of Milca. We ended up talking about if we made our beds every morning towards the end because it felt like I was talking to a friend instead of a stranger. This was a great experience, and I am looking forward to talking to Milca again for another assignment in the future.