I was a Spaniard attending the American School of Madrid (ASM), together with my sister, from 1963 (5 years old) to 1968. I remember the experience fondly, and indeed the language has been THE working tool for many years. I have worked the past 20 plus years for a foreign company, so 70% of my work is in English. But apart from the language, there were more things that you probably don't notice when you are a small kid but do notice when you grow up. I was raised as a Catholic and the contact with many different religions at such a young age cures you forever of the belief that there is only ONE TRUTH: Your own. This was not a normal thing in the Spain of the 60's. I am not raising my kid as a Catholic, but I do work hard to make her feel that religion is an absolutely personal thing and no difference should be make between one and another.
The contact with people from different places, not only Americans (I remember Canadians, Greeks, Cubans, Lebanese) made ASM a real "melting-pot", and an interesting one. The Spanish kids who went to ASM in those years were in a way expats in their own country. I remember my sister and I being called "las americanas" by the kids on our block, because from a certain point on it just came naturally to speak English among us. And then, of course, the change when starting at a religious Spanish school!! "Las monjitas", the separation of boys and girls, the prudishness of it all... It took me three long years to convince my parents to move me to another school. Believe me, they were looooonnnnnnggggggg years.
15 July 2003
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