Although I have been volunteering as a member of the Romero House community in different roles for many years, I have never before taken the opportunity to share some of what this experience has meant to me.
Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, I have had a couple of new roles: English language conversation partner and Second Harvest host, in which I have come to know our residents so much more than before and that has really enriched my life. In both roles, I have experienced so much warm connection with everyone at Romero House expressed with respect and good humour.
Because the predominant second language at Romero House is Spanish, I have been inspired to develop a basic knowledge of this beautiful language and so I have for years tried to improve my ability to express myself in it. In my previous visits to Spanish-speaking countries, I was limited to phrases such as “dos cervezas, por favor” and so I have an inkling of what it is like to be totally immersed in an environment where you are not able to fully understand what is being said around you – an experience common to so many of our newcomers.
And I know that dealing with a new language is just one of the many challenges that face new arrivals to Romero House. What impresses me about the people I meet at Romero House and fills me with optimism for our future together is their energy, their willingness to deal with all of the challenges they face and their determination to move forward in making a new life here in Canada.
In addition, I have gained an appreciation of the wide variety of countries from which so many members of our community come – learning a little bit of the history, the literature, the cinema, the music, the cuisine… of that great Spanish speaking world to our south as well as those other parts of the world represented at Romero House. And so being a volunteer at Romero House has not only given me the opportunity to be of service but to benefit from an unexpected education in parts of the world relatively unknown to most Canadians. Most people don’t have the good luck to transition from a long and satisfying career on retirement into a new role so full of joy and human connection. Muchas gracias, mis amigos.