Would you like to spend five days at an all-expenses-paid four-star resort, eat amazing continental cuisine, sip the regional wines, and get to know fascinating people? In exchange, you merely have to converse with them in English so they can improve their speaking and listening skills. If this sounds interesting, check out Vaughan Town.
Do you wonder why you’ve never heard of Vaughan Town? Maybe it’s too good to be true? The answer is simple: Richard Vaughan, the program’s founder, does not advertise for English speakers. The program is so fabulous his applicants come through word of mouth. Lots of Anglos, as we were called, are willing to buy plane tickets to Spain to help a small group of professional Spaniards improve their English skills. There’s no training for Anglos. Just bring your accent. The goal of Vaughan Town is to expose English language learners to all the different English accents they will encounter in their careers.
Vaughan Town is a virtual town but the accommodations are sweet.
Your first and last nights are in Madrid in a hotel at the Vaughan Town Center. When you sign up, you must choose a week and one of three fabulous venues. Because we love mountains, we chose Gredos, near Salamanca and Avila.
The participants are sweeter.
The main draw is the people you work with. The group of fourteen Anglos included two couples and ten outgoing singles, many in a life transition. An upbeat American cancer survivor and a gorgeous Brit were finally getting out after losing the loves of their lives. Another was in career transition out of hotel management. A young woman around 30 was searching for her next path in life.
The Spaniards were inspirational, too. I connected with a TV sports producer, who had met all the famous European athletes, Sharapova, Nadal, Lendl, and Messi, just to name a few. I also enjoyed meeting a psychoanalyst, who was able to entertain us with the funny English mistakes she had made during the week. She told us that the Irish woman tried to ask her if she was the boss at work. As a highly successful doctor, she was a bit offended at what she heard. “No,” she said, “I don’t take the bus to work.” Then the tables turned. One of the Anglo guys told so many stories about so many wives that this same woman wanted to ask about his years of marriage. Instead, she said, “How many days were you married to each one?” A Freudian slip from a psychoanalyst! Precious.
Vaughan Town’s Activities Are Well Planned.
Each day begins with a delicious breakfast and then one-on-one conversations. You can chat in the comfort of the cozy lobby or bar.
There are three one-on-one sessions per morning. So if you tire of sitting, you can go for a walk in nature or into the village.
On your way to the village and once you’re inside, look up. Barco de Avila is famous for storks.
Wherever you talk, your fifty-minute session will take you deep into people’s lives while you learn what wonderful human beings live in Spain.
After a delicious lunch, it’s time for group activities. You’re with a different group each day.
Prepare for silliness and laughs.
Evenings are set aside for culture. The Spaniards are late-night people, so be prepared to dine at nine.
Indulge in Spanish culture afterwards. Ladies, love a man who knows how to dance? From what I saw, all Spanish men dance well.
On Thursday the Spaniards present a five-minute talk on an assigned topic. One woman got the topic of joy. “I love being a housewife. I love putting on an apron, cooking for my family, and cleaning the grease out of every corner of my kitchen.” She paused and looked around at all the horrified faces of the women in the audience. “Just kidding!” she said. “My joy comes from my work and taking my daughters to Disney World.”
These participants were cool. The experience was cool. But to last the whole week, you have to be somewhat outgoing, not afraid to initiate conversations. I confess to being challenged. I’m more of a writer than a talker, but I stretched myself. I drew on all the blogs I’ve written, which gave me about three-year’s worth of material. Yet, sometimes the Spaniards just want to know about your home and your family. You never know where conversations will lead. Just follow your heart—and it may lead you to Spain.