It’s been two weeks since we arrived in Puerto Rico and the experience has already been much more than I expected.
My kids have been so immersed in Spanish at every level and in so many settings that a couple of days ago Vanessa actually came up to me and out of nowhere asked: “Mami, ¿qué tal si me olvido mi inglés?” I wanted to laugh at her ingenuity, but I just reassured her that this wouldn’t happen. Truth is she wasn’t so much worried as she was curious. I guess she’s finally old enough to grasp the huge difference between living in a country where English is dominant and in one where Spanish rules. And I couldn’t be happier.
The best part of our trip, so far, has been the chance Vanessa got to attend the same summer camp her cousin has been enrolled in since the beginning of the month. Although Vanessa only got to go for two weeks, these were jam-packed with all kinds of fun activities and even two field trips.
From 8:00 a.m. until 3 p.m., Vanessa was immersed in the kind of Spanish setting that is very hard for me to offer back home: the one of play, of children and of fun. While she may have gotten this here and there — especially when she was younger — thanks to our bilingual playgroup, the reality is that she’s never experienced something like these past two weeks of summer camp in Puerto Rico.
Every day at pick up time, Vanessa had nothing but great things to say about her experience. Of course, it didn’t hurt that her cousin, who’s only two months older than her and with whom she clicked immediately (despite it being three years since the last time they saw each other) was with her to help her navigate her new environment.
Although she joined the summer camp halfway through, Vanessa was really lucky in that they saved the best two field trips for the end. On her first day of camp, she got to go to the Arecibo Observatory — the world’s largest and most sensitive radiotelescope, which happens to be located in my husband’s hometown. As a science-lover who’s particularly interested in planets, stars and space in general, Vanessa came back fascinated with all that she had learned… in Spanish!
The second field trip took her to the Arecibo Lighthouse and Historical Park — the last lighthouse built by the Spanish government in Puerto Rico before it became a colony of the United States after winning the Spanish-American war. Vanessa was taught a lot of historical information about the beautiful faro and had a blast in the water park.
On the last day of the summer camp, there was a special ceremony and Vanessa got to perform a song from the movie “Wrecked Ralph” with the other kids in her age group. As I took her home, she told me she never imagined it would be so much fun and thanked me for bringing her to Puerto Rico and enrolling her in the summer camp!