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Intercambio en España

By Lia Hershberger,
REACH Spain Co-Leader

Editor’s note: “Intercambios” in Granada, Spain are informal language learning groups that meet in public places like coffee shops. The groups have roughly equal numbers of English and Spanish speakers who learn each other’s language through conversation. Part of the Spain team’s outreach is participation in these conversations.

“Intercambio.” This is a word we use a lot here in Granada. It means exchange, and specifically, language exchange. But it is definitely more than that. You see, we start out with the exchange of pleasantries, and then progress into the exchange of life stories, of problems that popped up during the week, of morals, and of beliefs (or at least snippets). Soon you have a foundation for a friendship, and that was only your first time meeting. Week after week you start building on that first encounter and your conversations deepen as well as your respect for one another, and while they wouldn’t call you a friend, there is a definite relationship being created.

It is always such a win to share beliefs with people, and at every opportunity we’ll take it, but what has been happening more than that during intercambio has been talking about and living out our morals. People definitely take notice when we shy away from using or applauding the use of profane words or gestures, they notice when we defend the vulnerable and when we stand for what is right and pure. On several occasions we’ve seen people stunned, open-mouthed, when we take a stand for purity in such a depraved generation.

Intercambio is so much more than language exchange. It’s coming together in humility, choking out in whatever language you can the words on your heart. It’s encouraging one another, laughing together, listening to problems, advising, and challenging one another to grow in language, in life, and in relationships. Above all, it’s creating “God space” in a natural and comfortable way.