As many of you know, my family just spent the last year in Central America. Living abroad has always been a boon for my writing, exposing me to new potential settings for books (imagine staring down into a volcanic caldera glowing with red molten lava, like we did in Nicaragua ), interesting characters ripe for re-imagination (our Mayan host family in Guatemala who spoke to each other in the Mayan language Tzutujil, as well as Spanish), and histories and stories I wouldn’t encounter in the U.S. (Costa Ricans, for example, celebrate the day they abolished their military as a national holiday, and some of my neighbors in Costa Rica moved to Central America after they refused to register with Selective Service in the United States).
Our first stop in our year abroad was a month of intensive Spanish lessons in Guatemala. I loved so much about that month–our host family, living at the base of a verdant volcano, the cobblestone streets of San Pedro, long conversations with my Spanish teacher, and lots of tropical fruit smoothies, of course. If you’d like a taste of the experience, I wrote this article in The Los Angeles Times:
I hope you’ll find it inspiring. Teen readers, don’t be deterred. Language school abroad is a great opportunity for whole families, of if you’re an older teen, it might even be something you could do on your own.