Shoutout to Chrissey for giving me this idea.
When someone asked me why I majored in English I would tell them it was because I wanted to be an editor at some hot shot magazine or publishing company.
(Yes just like that^)
That was my career goal. It still is my career goal. I chose it as a 16 year old because I loved books and reading, but (oddly enough) I couldn’t see myself as a writer. The behind-the-scenes of the book world seemed like the perfect fit. I experienced some doubts in college because I couldn’t call myself super passionate for it. The idea of being an editor interested me and I had a feeling I would like it, but I wasn’t busting down doors to work with campus magazines or newspapers. That was my sign that maybe my passions lied else where.
I later realized that the thing that would really make my heart soar, the thing that I know I would love no matter the pay, was actually based in the other subject I chose to study in college.My minor. The subject I happened to choose out of pure love and interest. It was the kind of obsessive intrigue you can’t turn away from.
While my major was English (a choice made to pursue a career in editing and publishing), my minor was Spanish. Now this doesn’t mean I want to be your next Spanish 1 teacher. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I always wanted to figure out a way to combine my minor and major into the same career. When I went to study abroad in Spain two years ago I told my friends I wanted to reach some sort of life-changing, path-finding epiphany while there. And even though it was a dream come true to live in Madrid, my epiphany didn’t hit me until a year later.
It hit me at work actually. My restaurant job where the majority of my coworkers who worked in the kitchen were native Spanish speakers. I loved speaking in Spanish with them because they were funny and they helped me practice. And boy did they get a kick out of seeing black girl speak Spanish. One day, my coworker who is a mom of three told me that all her kids and her husband knew English. She was the only one who couldn’t speak it fluently. She shared with me how much she wanted to learn English. She told me her frustrations of people only teaching her the bad words in English. It embarrassed her to try to speak it because it came out broken. An embarrassment I knew all too well. I imagine as a mom of three boys who works full time at an hourly-paid job, she wasn’t in the position to find the time or resources to learn on her own. I suggested watching shows in English and listening to music. But I know from experience that this isn’t enough. Language learning requires exposure from all areas. You need the traditional grammar lessons, the studying, the perfecting of syntactical structure, building up the vocab, constant exposure, auditory exposure, written exposure, interactive conversation. I could go on for fucking days.
It was in that moment I wished so badly I could dedicate time to sit down and help her. As it turned out, it was my last two weeks there and I lived an hour away. Impractical. In that moment it hit me clear as day. I would love to be able to be an English teacher for adults in the U.S. Adults who came to the U.S. later in their lives who were already out of school, making it harder to pick up a second language as easily as a child in school. I could write an entire other post about how crucial access to other languages is to me, but I’ll save that for another day.
I want to help people who would want the language as badly, if not more, than the way I wanted to learn Spanish. Those are the people I want to help. Adults that might not have the time or resources. Yet here in lies the problem I haven’t quite worked out in my mind to solve. How would I make a career out of helping people who don’t have the time or resources? Nonprofit? Maybe just as a side hobby? I haven’t quite hashed out the details of this. But I keep this dream tucked away for a later date.
Funny enough, I didn’t think about this second career as an option when I made the decision to teach English abroad. Teaching English abroad, like most people, was a decision I made to see more of the world. A decision made to go back to a Spanish-speaking country in order to improve my own skills. A selfish decision. As it turns out, this selfish decision has also been pointing me in the direction I would love to go someday. So my friends, that is my ultimate career goal. Let’s just say I have two: badass editor and dedicated ESL teacher.