During the final hours of the Essence Festival, I was assigned to check out a restroom on the other side of the event. To me, it was probably the most busiest restroom out of all of them. It's near the numerous restaurants that people go to and chow down to all the food. Once they are done you know the number one place they go to when they rise up from that chair. The restroom.
I walked inside to check on the location. I wasn't just going to stand in the front and watch everyone coming in and out. Based on the number of people that were doing that, I knew there was going to be a huge mess somewhere. I went inside to check on the supplies immediately.
While inside, I met this guy named Enrique who was working there as a janitor. I introduced myself to the new guy.
"Hello," I said.
He greeted me by shaking his head.
"What's your name?"
"I don't speak English," he blurted out. He had to say it three times because I couldn't quite hear him from the crowd. It was obviously the only English word he knew.
Instantly, my old memories of Spanish class kicked in. I remember being so humiliated at the moment when I had to switch over to another language to not only converse with the person I was talking to, but to also please the culture that I was learning. My Spanish teacher would ask me something and I would freeze instantly. It was always constant nervousness and a slight lack of knowledge. I love the Latin community, especially their music. I love artists like Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Shakira, and Ricky Martin. I always felt this connection with them.
I wasn't going to be beaten by my nervousness of speaking in Spanish. I held a deep breath and I started talking to Enrique like a true Spanish gentleman. It paid off. For three hours, I was speaking Spanish fluently. I understood everything he was telling me and I gave him the right answers. He always had a smile on his face. So did the other women that were working alongside him. They started talking to me in Spanish and I understood everything.
By the end of the night, I made new friends and my connection with the Latin community got even stronger.
I owe it all to my wonderful Spanish teacher back in high school.