Learning about Dallas and Business in Spanish Class

Director of Marketing and Communications Kerry Shea writes about her recent visit to the Spanish in the Metroplex Class. She learned a lot, even if she did not understand everything that was said.

My last formal training in the Spanish language occurred in the mid-1990s. While I have received some exposure to the language over the past 20 years, either through vacations to Latin American countries or by living in Southern states, my language skills are rusty. So when an invitation to visit Greenhill’s Spanish in the DFW Metroplex crossed my desk, I hesitated. The teacher, Tina Mendez-Kohler, had invited Mr. Robert Peinado, an international businessman who had done work in both the United States and Mexico, to speak about his work in the Dallas area.

The topic sounded interesting, but I feared I wouldn’t understand much of what he was saying. Eventually, I decided to go to capture a couple of photos for the website and social media. I didn’t plan to stay long. Imagine my surprise when I found myself still sitting in the classroom at the end of the 55-minute class.

Mr. Peinado’s talk was fascinating. He is a real estate developer and the purpose of his talk was to share his experiences with creating a new mixed-use project in the Dallas area. He started by sharing his background and how he developed an idea to help bring more of the communal way of life in Mexico to the United States. He shared how the idea formed more than six years ago, and how the project evolved as he received input from leaders in multiple cities. Now, finally, his development is set to break ground later this summer.

While the project itself was interesting, I found the life lessons Mr. Peinado infused into his talk even more compelling. He talked about the importance of understanding family history – he learned that his own family included thoughtful, hardworking individuals, and that contributed to his own persistence. (He also learned that his Mexican grandfather was wanted by the United States government!) He shared that he feels comfortable in board rooms in New York and in local bars in Mexico, but that his ability to transition between worlds has taken time. He said that the more time you put into something, the better it will be.

He bounced back and forth between Spanish and English, talking rapidly, but always making sure that the students were following. And they were. Exams were scheduled to start the next day, and students had every right to be distracted, but they were all riveted, asking compelling, thoughtful questions. Who is your biggest competitor? What was your favorite part of working on the project?

At the end of class, I was amazed by how much Spanish I remembered and how much I was able to follow. But I was even more amazed at the class itself – at how Greenhill students engaged in such a high level discussion in another language, at how a businessman recognized the importance of sharing his experiences with the future leaders of our country, and how many wonderful opportunities the students and faculty at Greenhill share.

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