Audrey Augenbraum, Getafe/Madrid, Spain

Reed College
In Madrid I discovered a rewarding feeling—that people could get to know me and like me in Spanish, a language that is not my mother tongue.  I developed a dormant aspect of myself, as if I could suddenly be more me than I knew possible.  Middlebury’s Language Pledge was invaluable in achieving this, and madrileños delighted in the spectacle of Americans speaking to one other in castellano.  I felt welcomed into the worlds of Madrid: by the group of jazz musicians at whose jam session I sang every Wednesday; by my Spanish momma, who took me to her pueblo, lent me books and shoes, taught me how to use a fork and knife at the same time (the vice of a lifelong vegetarian); by the café-owner who helped me find and repair a second-hand bicycle for my pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.  My madrileño friends brimmed over with enthusiasm for showing me the city and were patient when I struggled with the language.