Perhaps one of my favorite changes I have seen in myself since I started my service is that I seem to have more confidence and higher self-esteem.
I think a lot of this gets manifested when I speak in public. Public speaking has never really been a big issue for me. I could present in front of groups, participate in skits, improvise etc. I got comfortable and good at that. But that was all before having to do it in Spanish.
I remember feeling nervous during pre-service training when we were learning how to facilitate sessions in Spanish. I knew the material but it was always a question of if I would be able to present it in a way that was understandable to students. Nowadays, I speak in front of groups on a weekly basis. Sometimes with local authorities, teachers and/or students. I know my Spanish isn’t perfect, but I also know I have gotten good at getting my message across.
In more social settings I have also seen a change in how I interact. Before, groups of majority Spanish speakers were intimidating. It was always a headache to try and keep up. Most of the conversation would go over my head. However now I have noticed that I not only listen better, but participate more actively. Perhaps most proudly, I even know now when it is appropriate to laugh and insert jokes. Learning how to be humorous in Spanish took a long time. Now, I’ve got a better handle on sarcasm and the type of humor Peruvians enjoy.
I look forward to seeing how this impacts my life when I am back in the US. I look forward to using my Spanish to interact in ways that were never possible before. Both in professional and social contexts.