This year’s Thanksgiving was certainly different for most of us. I did enjoy the traditional Thanksgiving feast and we had a smaller group of family that gathered together, but I also had an opportunity to do something a little different this year. On Thanksgiving morning at 9:00 AM, I got to speak to a group of university students in El Salvador.
In 2019, I had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador with some Gideons from the United States. We were there to help the local Gideons in the capital city of San Salvador distribute almost 80,000 Bibles throughout the city. Several of our translators were students studying English at Universidad de El Salvador and at one point I got to meet their English professor. He spoke very good English and he had two requests – 1) He wanted to know if I had an English Bible for him (I did) and 2) He wanted to know if I’d be willing to speak with his English class of students. I told him I couldn’t do that as we were on a tight schedule, but I gave him my contact information and told him to reach out to me.
Fast forward to October of this year, and we emailed back and forth to set up a Zoom call on Thanksgiving morning so I could speak with his students (that’s the date that worked best for him. I wasn’t meeting with family until later, and I didn’t mention it was a holiday for us). He asked me to give a speech on a specific subject and he had a list to choose from. One of the subjects was leadership so I wrote a speech titled, “5 Leadership Skills Small Business Owners Must Have” because I felt I know that subject matter pretty well.
I enjoyed taking the time to speak with his students. This year I’ve used Zoom for meeting clients, showing homes to clients, and even attended my Sunday school classes through Zoom, but giving a speech to university students that are in another country 2,480 miles away is a first for me.
They speak Spanish in El Salvador, and these students are obviously learning to speak English as a second language. Being able to speak English will give them many more opportunities to work as translators or possibly get a job with an American or European company that does business in Central America. Their professor said they don’t typically have the opportunity to speak with someone in person that’s speaking English, so it’s a unique opportunity for them.
Obviously learning a language is hard enough, but hearing someone speak a language you’re trying to learn gives a different perspective altogether. Even within the United States, a person from Texas or Connecticut might speak a little differently or use different words than a person in Missouri.
At the end of my 25-minute speech, the students had time to ask me questions. They were clearly taking notes during my speech as most of their questions were about the subject matter of running a small business and how to lead people.
I was so happy to have had the opportunity to speak with them. My hope is that I inspired a few of them to start their own businesses in El Salvador and be leaders in their own communities.