In Cuernavaca, there are 14 of us who are learning together. We are learning the Spanish language as well as the culture and history of Mexico. Each day begins with the language class, which fills up most of the morning. Then there is a short talk about some aspect of Mexican history and then we walk to see examples of what has been discussed or learned that day. Two days ago we learned about shopping in our language class, then we heard about the importance of the “Mercado” or free market economy in Mexico, and then we went to the Mercado to experience it first hand.
After the first day, we were divided into two language learning groups: the beginners and the advanced. The advanced group are mostly people who grew up speaking Spanish while the beginning group did not. In each group are students who range in age from 15 to 60 and we are all learning together. Our beginning group has been assigned homework each night and last night I needed a little help, which I got from the 15-year-old. Our diverse ages cause the discussions to be rich and informative, with each person contributing their knowledge and experience. In formal education – at the K-12 level – there are few times when there are multiple ages in a classroom. Of course, back in the early days, there was the one room schoolhouse where there were a variety of ages. Here, this type of learning has been an advantage to me – interacting with people of all ages and hearing about their experiences in the context of learning language, culture and history.