Wow. It’s been nearly two months since my last update. Hard to fathom! But, alas, this blog was meant to be sort of a fragmented set of musings for whenever I had time. I wasn’t expecting such an ellipse, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me my dear and intimate readership.
I’m in Middlebury, Vermont, possibly one of the most pristine, fertile and gorgeous little towns in the world. Every year, a set of 10 language schools commences both in Middlebury and also in California where they opened up a sister school a few years ago. Before beginning the program, you sign a language pledge that you will only communicate in X language during the entirety of your program. In my case, it was (is) Portuguese. I have been coming to Middlebury off and on for the last 10 years (imagine how old that makes me!). In 2001, I came for my first taste of the Spanish School as an eager undergraduate. I studied abroad with Middlebury in Germany in 2002,-2003, returning to their flagship program in Vermont in 2005 for the first of a four summer Master’s in Spanish. I went to their Guadalajara site of the Master’s in 2008, was back here in 2009 and finished up the Master’s by completing my final three courses at Kent State/Akron U in the fall of 2009. I was awarded the Master’s in Spanish in March of 2010. The rest, dear readers, you all know. PhD.. Town of Georges.. blah, blah, blah.
So, after all this time coming to Middlebury, what brings me back this year? Why Portuguese? Am I crazy for spending yet another summer learning yet another language? Is this really necessary? To begin with, as is probably already evident, I love this place. Love it. There are few places in which I feel so alive. Imagine getting to isolate yourself from all distractions for seven weeks in the rolling green hills of rural America, spending around 5-6 hours a day studying just what YOU love the most. Imagine. I always leave here filled with a deep sense of gratitude, privilege really, for being able to engage in something I hold so dear. Our lives are full of distraction. Cell phones, computers, (work?!), parents, children for some, friends, cars, bills, TV, radio. There is a constant layer of noise which hums together to create the soundtrack of our lives. When I arrived here into the very basic dorm room, opened the window, through my stuff on the bed and sat down in the desk which would be mine for the summer, I was filled with a sense of indescribable peacefulness. This summer I would dedicate to Portuguese. And that was that.
Brazil having occupied such an incredible chunk of Latin America, indeed it is by far the largest country in the continent, there would have been a massive void in my understanding of Latin American literature and cultural studies had I not undertaken Portuguese. With the upcoming world cup and Olympic Games, the world is turning its eyes towards this massive land of the Lusophones. In order to successfully teach on Latin America as a (future) professor, I felt that I had to learn Spanish as well as Portuguese. I felt it imminent and inevitable. Plus I’m a huge nerd and it gave me an excuse to return to my beloved Middlebury.
Oh, dear friends, there is so much more to say. Perhaps a part II of this email is in order. And then a part III.
I miss you and hope your child(ren) and cat(s) and (boy)friends are well.