KING CITY — Sydney Taylor spoke about her experiences as a King City Rotary exchange student in Argentina during the July 15 virtual Rotary Club meeting.
Taylor explained she lived with four different host families, with the first not knowing English and herself not knowing Spanish at the time.
“Emergence is the best way to learn a language,” Taylor said about her experience. “I didn’t speak Spanish at all when I arrived.”
She described her first host family situation as requiring pantomiming words.
“Living in a foreign country for months on end is completely different than going on vacation for a week or two,” she said. “I was constantly tired because I was consistently encountering new experiences in a completely new culture.”
Taylor said she juggled her new day-to-day routine and learning a new language.
“I learned how to experience another culture’s normal, and I was the person with the accent,” she said. “That experience alone taught me the importance of patience and communication. We no longer fed on stereotypes of other countries.”
She noted her most important takeaway was learning Spanish.
Taylor came back and attended college, graduating in December 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Her job as manager of compliance and operations at Autumn Brands, a Santa Barbara County cannabis farm, makes her Spanish skills essential.
“I use Spanish every single day in my workplace,” Taylor said. “That’s one of the big decision makers for them to have hired me. I help people translate everyday and I have to give instructions.”
She added that during her latest return trip to Argentina, her friends said her Spanish was “10 times better.”