MY FIRST STUDENT, SERGIO
In 1992, I started classes in a library in Rosarito, Mexico, just south of Tijuana. I simply asked the director if I could start classes, and she gave me the key to a room located at the annex behind the library. I then put up flyers all over the area, in the library, stores, on lampposts…everywhere.
I wrote some texts and made audio-cassettes for the students.
Then I went to the first class and waited, until 5 people showed up. Sergio Hernandez was the first one there.
For about one year he came to every class even if it was raining.
Sergio was a construction worker and was about 35 years old at the time. He was a quiet man and always had a smile.
BUT he was a little shy about participating in class. Often he seemed to be confused about the lessons.
I worried about him, and hoped he was learning, but I was not sure. Actually some days I felt guilty and did not want to take his payment, which was $1 US per class.
Anyway, eventually I left Rosarito and said my Good-byes to everybody.
Then in 2002 I began to sell my books and audio-cassettes at swap meets (tianguis or pulgas) in Southern California. I drove to about 10 different swap meets every month.
One day in Los Angeles I was selling at a large swap meet, and whom do you think I saw?
That’s right! Sergio!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Hey, Sergio – I yelled – How are you? Do you remember me!?
- Profe Pablo!!!!!!!!! How are you? It is good to see you!!
And we talked – in English – for about 30 minutes. He told he came to LA to work and was painting houses.
I said – You speak English very well - did you take classes?
He said – I took some, but you taught me the most!
Oh, good, I said, I am very glad I could help you!
Then he had to leave, so we said Good Bye.
My texts and audios were converted to a free website called Pumarosa in 2004. I often chat with students from all over the world, and I tell everyone Sergio’s story, because they all start learning English with the same doubts and frustrations.