Back to school

By Published On: April 24, 2005Categories: Language2 Comments on Back to school

Bells every 45 minutes, corridors full of classrooms, rucksacks overladen with exercise books, homework that is never quite completed. Yes after an interval of 14 years, I am back at school. Thankfully it hasn’t been accompanied by my voice returning to soprano pitch, having to play rugby on freezing cold pitches, or becoming dreadfully insecure in front of girls.

I have just finished my first week at the Maryknoll Language Institute in Cochabamba, where I will be for 6 weeks improving my spanish before I start my voluntary work in La Paz. It is a pretty intense course with four hours of one-to-one tuition every day plus lots of homework using videos, tapes, and reading material.   I try my best to get my teachers to just chat and ignore my grammatical errors but they are too good to let me get away with it.

The institute was set up mainly for Catholic missionaries, but I have managed to sneak in thanks to my past work at CAFOD. In fact at times it quite reminds me of CAFOD with its liberal, religious bent. Thursday saw an Earth Day celebration, which had some great hippy elements in the liturgy. On Friday, we watched a play by some talented local students drawing on chronicles of the conquistadores and sacred indigenous texts. And as you can imagine, Ratzinger’s election as Pope Benedict wasn’t greeted with great joy by my fellow students.

Anyway, enough wittering. Better head back and work on my subjunctive.



  1. MB April 27, 2005 at 3:02 am - Reply

    Does religion come along with the teaching of Spanish?

  2. Nick April 27, 2005 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Well, there are plenty of options for religious stuff from masses, to reflection groups and talks on the Church in Latin America, but it’s all voluntary. Topics for classes are chosen by the students…

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