Another thing Tom did during our blog hiatus was speak at the El Progresso/7 Miles Primary School graduation in June 2013. We have been involved with the school for a number of years, helping however we can, but Tom was nonetheless hugely honored when Mr. Cano, the principal, contacted him in the beginning of June and asked if he would be the graduation speaker. Tom of course said yes, and immediately started thinking about his speech, which was on the graduating class theme of “Education is the tool that empowers us to be successful in life.” Since we truly believe this, it wasn’t a difficult topic to address, but Tom gave himself the added challenge of speaking in both English and Spanish.
Although English is Belize’s official language, 7 Miles is a town made up of mainly Central American immigrants, and even though school is supposed to be taught in English, many of the parents of the students speak only Spanish. Since the graduation is for the families as well as the students, Tom felt that it would be respectful to speak so the families could understand the message. And, Tom’s Spanish is good enough that he felt like he could do it.
The effort was appreciated by everyone, and one of our mainly Spanish speaking friends who had a daughter in the graduating class said that if Tom had been in Spanish class, he would have earned a solid “B.” It wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly understandable, and even the representative from the Ministry of Education remarked it was quite well done. Of course for the next few days Tom would randomly blurt out, “I should have said … this way instead of that,” but overall even Tom was happy with the delivery, and especially with the reception of his effort.