Monday, May 10, 2010

Dispatches from Mexico: Star Wars, Academia de Policia and grocery shopping

Our ten officers continuing their Spanish immersion training in the city of Morelia, Mexico, are learning more language and culture every day. Guest blogger Sergeant Lionel Colon recaps some of their experiences last week and shares some of his photos:

May 3

Monday we were back in class. First order of business was a test. It was of particular difficulty because the piece we were using to translate using the preterit and imperfect tense verb was from the beginning script of Star Wars. Needless to say, it was quite a challenge.

As the morning progressed, we soon found ourselves reflecting on what previous students had advised us. We knew we had "hit the wall" as they had described. Although there are times of leisure here, this program is extremely challenging to say the least. Frustrated and confused, we were glad to get the test over with.

May 4
After classes, we paid a visit to the Regional Police Academy. We were provided a tour of the facility. Some of us participated in their Virtra five-panel simulator. Afterward, we found ourselves at the range and fired some of their weapons. Their Cardinal Rules were a bit different than ours but we were able to follow their instructions. After shooting a few rounds, they provided us a lunch consisting of fruit and club sandwiches.

That evening, our class split up and spent the evening in conversational class with professors at area shopping districts.

May 5
Cinco de Mayo isn't really celebrated here as in the States. Sorry, no big festivals to describe.

Another day, another test. This one consisted of another paragraph of translation, another full page of vocabulary and finally we had to write an entire dialogue consisting of a traffic stop with tickets issued.

Hours later, we visited an area court and spent a few hours with a judge. The topics ranged from the judicial process to American football (a judge favorite). Most of their documentation is still completely conducted by hand. There is change coming as within the next few years they plan to complete a structural and administrative overhaul.

Meeting with the judge.

May 6
Wow, a day without a test! On the other hand, our previous tests were returned. As is often the case, most of the errors were minor but still a disappointment for many of us. All things considered, we are doing well considering the task at hand and time spent learning another language.

Our homework consisted of a visit to an area market to converse with vendors and learn about the culture of shopping at open-air markets. The stands had vegatables, fruits, meats, household items and clothing. The metric system is a bit confusing, but we managed to figure out standard pricing to kilo.

After a small break to eat with our host families, we return to CCL at 6 p.m. to spend a couple hours of sharing conversation with those struggling to learn English. We find a common bond as we often struggle to communicate with them in Spanish on a deeper level than just the introductory phrases.

And then we returned to our homes to end the day studying for tomorrow's exam.