The Basics Are Always There in Our Two Language Meetings

Four of us get together every Tuesday morning for an SA meeting. We are from four different ethnic backgrounds, working near the US-Mexico border.

Everyone in this neck of the woods seems to speak the two languages, Spanish and English, fluently, so we run our meetings in Spanish sometimes, English other times.

Sometimes the person speaking tries to search for just the right word to express themselves, but their vocabulary isn’t as extensive as a native speaker. So, we might take turns trying to supply the right word, but being careful to avoid crosstalk during the share.

There are many traps for the unwary words that sound similar in both languages but mean completely different things. For instance, one of us might want to emphasize that he is “committed” to the program for 24 hours, but will say he is “comprometido” to the program. It sounds to us English speakers that he is open to “compromise” on his sobriety renewal, but in reality he is committing himself to it. Clarifications can be checked out at the end of the meeting, and often laughed about.

The setting varies according to who may be hosting. One host will lay out cookies of sweet traditional rolls from our local Mexican bakery, but we’re all in the same boat in terms of age, and try to avoid eating much of these.

The basics are also always there, in beautiful and moving ways, no matter what language we speak. Honesty is infectious, humbling, and sets the tone of the meeting. Transparency and leading with our weakness is equally valued among all of us. Our personal histories and backgrounds vary. Some of us are from dysfunctional families, either cold and unfeeling, or overly manipulative and smothering, reflecting some of the archetypes of different cultural backgrounds.

Occasionally, we’ll go out to eat as well. It’s been great to expand our horizons and make the effort to pursue recovery together, across boundaries of culture and language.

Bob, Texas, USA

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