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Even though many languages may be dying out, there is a new one as of November 2014
Like clockwork, the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) holds its annual conference in an exotic locale every November. This year it just happened to be in the great state of Texas.
Here are a few things that I took away from the trip.
My school, Cayman International School, sent me and two colleagues to San Antonio since we're revamping our Spanish curriculum to adopt new textbooks. Our school considers Spanish a core subject and for that reason, it is taught starting with 4 year olds all the way until they graduate as a Senior. It was our responsibility to choose curriculum and materials for the entire Spanish program. It's interesting visiting textbooks companies attending the most important world language teacher conference of the year and not having actual copies of the the textbook they are trying to sell. I was only a business admin minor but that seems like a poor business model to me.
The ACTFL conference seems a lot like what a Comic-Con might look like, except rather than seeing folks dressed up at Batman and Robin, people are waling around talking foreign languages and wearing nerdy bright green shirts with #LangChat tattered across the front.
The guest speaker was National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths. She has snapped photos across the globe in 150 countries (she has tripled the number I've visited) and uses her positin and exposure to other cultures to make positive changes in the world with a focus on women and children.
I'm not a foodie by any means, but one thing I was sure looking forward to was eating my fair share of Tex-Mex in San Antonio. Tex-Mex ranks #2 on my list of world foods behind Italian, and slightly ahead of Thai. I would compare to Tex-Mex to Scarlett Johansson and Italian food to Nadine White. My first choice would always be Italian food, but if I wasn't able to go out on a date with Italian, I would definitely try eat some Tex-Mex.
My brother Tim and I enjoyed a great lunch at Las Palapas, home of the best breakfast burrito in the world. I devoured 3 tacos and a gallon of Dr. Pepper and the bill only came out to $8. In Cayman, that would easily come out to $30.
I spent lunch with my former UNO professor and CIS colleagues on the Riverwalk enjoying some delicious chicken fajitas with Mariachi bands serenading everyone along the the water.
Friday night dinner was pretty unique in that I spent it was three educators from different parts of my professional career: Sarah is a French teacher from Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska; Jessica was a fellow participant in the Uruguay Fulbright Teacher Exchange in 2011; and Emiley is a Spanish teacher at CIS.
Dinner was at the Belgium bistro La Frite. Any chance to hang out with good people and drink Belgium beers, I'm there man. I had some grilled salmon and veggies, along with rice. This was all accompanied by some mighty fine Belgium beers. First by Triple Karmeliet and then by Kwak. Kwak came in an unique shaped glass and held up by a wooden stand. The glass looked like a large, disproportionate beaker. When the glass was full, it could stand upright on its own, but as beaker lost vital fluids, it became less stable. Towards the end of my Kwak, I was showing the Georgia teachers the shape of the glass and quick as a whip, the last two ounces found its way directly on my crotch. When the waitress came to ask about dinner, I mentioned the instability of the Kwak glass and my wet crotch, and she cheerily stated, "Sorry about that. Let's get you another dear!" And that is how you make Belgium beers mutliply.
After dinner, the entire group walked down the sidewalk giving our food a chance to digest. Emiley mentioned, "You know John, he eats like a super model. Grilled fish, veggies, and rice."