THIS IS RAYMOND'S STORY
"IT'S TRUE THAT SPAIN IS DIFFERENT...."
It's interesting how a person's life can radically change without one expecting it to. This can happen with dynamic circumstances related to a person's personal and/or professional life. And of course, other people can also influence changes in someone's life. This is exactly what happened in my case.
My story about how my personal and professional life took a huge turn began when I first met a professor of Spanish at Central Washington University in 1993. His name is Carlos Enrique Martín. The picture below was taken of both of us together in 2013, standing next to a famous restaurant called "El Pabellón del Espejo" on the wide boulevard of Paseo de Recoletos in the central area of Madrid. Before this picture was taken, we hadn't seen each other for over 18 years. It was an immense pleasure for me to be reunited with one of the people who changed my life forever. Here is how it all began.
I was living in a small university town in Washington state in the U.S. called Ellensburg in 1989, when I finished studying a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree program in Mathematics and Statistics. After that, I worked in the Administration Office of the same University for four years, and later decided to complete a Teaching Certificate Program so that I could teach Mathematics.
My teaching career began in the year of 1995, but soon took a quick and unexpected turn. I had to travel long distances on a daily basis in order to maintain my job as a mathematics teacher, and the majority of my students were Hispanic. I didn't want to have any handicaps while working with these students, so I decided to take an intensive summer course in Spanish at the same university in 1993. This is when I met my professor, Carlos Enrique.
I enjoyed my summer studies a lot, and soon discovered my genuine interest for the Spanish language. Carlos asked me if I had ever considered studying a degree program in Spanish, since I received very high grades during my summer studies. I ended up following his advice.
Carlos invited me to participate in the summer study program in La Coruña in order to accelerate my learning experience with the Spanish language. I went with him and his wife, Fi, and about ten other students from the university in 1993. I literally fell in love with Spain after my first summer study abroad program in La Coruña.
Carlos has written a few words for me that I would like to share with all of you. Look to your right, and see what he has to say. By the way, he calls me Ramón, instead of Raymond, because I adopted that name while I was studying Spanish at Central Washington University.
The first time that I stayed in La Coruña, I was invited to stay with Xulia and Ricardo in their house, and also for four more summers after that, while I studied and practiced Spanish. During the rest of the year between each of these four summers, I taught Mathematics and Spanish to secondary level school children in Washington state.
Xulia, Ricardo and I hadn't seen each other for over 15 years before this year when I finally went back to La Coruña to visit them. This is a photo of the three of us taken last March in 2016. It was a very emotional visit for all of us, since we have been talking on the phone to each other every year before my last visit with them. We have never lost contact with each other since the very first time we met in 1995. They are like family to me.
In July of 2000, I also went to a summer program, but at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, in order to practice Spanish before beginning a Master's Degree program in Ellensburg. Two professors from Madrid helped to change my mind, so that I would study a Master's Degree at their University instead of at Central Washington University where I lived.
One year later, in July 2001, I completed a Master's Degree in Phonetics, and wrote a thesis in order to compare Castilian Spanish and American English phonetics. After these experiences in Spain, I made a lifelong choice, and decided to go back to Ellensburg in order to do only one thing. I sold everything I had and returned to Madrid with only two big suitcases. One month later, I started working at a language academy. Four after that, I created my own business called "English with Raymond".
October of this year in 2016 will mark my business's diamond anniversary. I never dreamed in a million years that one day I would be living and working in my own self-made business in a foreign country. Spain has been, and will continue to be, my home for the rest of my life.
I have discovered that life doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, it's much more enjoyable if you keep it simple. If you are driven and self-motivated, you will eventually get what you want. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher from the very beginning of my childhood. I remember playing school with my cousins when we were children. Guess who the teacher was? That's right, it was me.
I have found my place in life. Being a professional educator is what I both like and do best. And there's no better place to do it than in Spain. It's true that for me "Spain is different".