An adventure of her own
Sometimes Nancy Dordal catches herself getting distracted by language.
Dordal, who just spent a year in Spain as part of a youth exchange program sponsored by the Emmaus Rotary Club, now speaks Spanish with a confidence time immersed in another culture brings. In an interview following her recent presentation to the club on her experiences in Spain, Dordal talked about how her relationship with Spanish has changed. Dordal now gets distracted when she hears others speaking Spanish because she can better understand what is being said.
"I can converse perfectly fine. I'm understood completely," Dordal said of her language skills.
Plus, she has grown.
"She's not the same young lady," her father, Andrew Dordal said.
Dordal traveled to Alicante, Spain, a port city off the Mediterranean Sea. She attended high school there, taking nine classes, including biology and geology, religion, philosophy, physics and chemistry, and math, tried new foods, traveled to Madrid, and other parts of Spain, Lisbon and the Pyrenees mountains, lived with two host families, and still found time to keep a detailed blog of her travels and experiences for family, friends and Rotary members who checked to see how and where she was.
"It's amazing how she grew over the year," Gordon Reese, director of the youth exchange program for the Emmaus club said.
Dordal, who will enter her junior year at Emmaus High School this academic year, was the first student in about a decade to be sponsored by the Emmaus club's exchange, a program the club is actively reviving, Reese continued. An extensive application process involving local and district level interviews and detailed paperwork took months to complete.
"Nancy had all the credentials. It was a no brainer," Reese said of Dordal's selection.
In a way, Dordal is following family tradition and traveling in her parents' footsteps.
Andrew and Anne Dordal traveled to Africa with the Peace Corps and inspired their daughter to have her own adventure. Her parents' experiences also prepared Dordal for some aspects of being so far from home for a year, especially during the holidays. The family chatted via Skype and smartphones, however, Christmas was hard, said Dordal. She did, however, come to regard her hosts as family, discussing in her talk to the club and in her blog her close relationships with her host siblings and parents. Dordal made a special connection with the grandmother of one family, spending time with the older woman.
"All she needed was someone to listen," Dordal recalled fondly in her presentation to the Emmaus Rotary Club.
In her talk to the club, Dordal showcased photographs of her travels and foods she tried and discussed her school experiences, opening her talk by greeting the audience in fluid Spanish.
"It was a wonderful year. I learned a lot," Dordal said in thanking the membership and presenting the Emmaus Rotary Club with a small banner from the Alicante Rotary Club.
"I'm already planning to go back."