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My Superpower by Arden Hunter

An English conversation camp for adults. The Hungarians were business people, the native speakers were not: backpackers, educators, mid-life-crisis-ers.
Free bed, free food. Just talk, in return.

I was there because I didn’t know what else to do.
The Hungarians wanted to change their lives.

English will help me get a better job. English will help me find opportunities to leave this country. English will help me improve my life.

English will help me.

Little stacks of cards were provided. Tell me about your favorite movie? What would you do if you won a million dollars? What superhero power do you have? Try saying this, or this, or this!
(Meaningless bits of drivel you wouldn’t talk to your cat about.)
Soon the cards were abandoned – because we didn’t want to talk.

We wanted to talk.

We talked about hope.
We talked about joy.
We talked about the food we share with loved ones.
We talked about the songs we had fallen in love to, the places we had slept.

I talked to people who had never left their city, people who were unhappy in their marriages, people who hated their jobs. I talked to people who wanted to learn to play guitar, people who wanted to adopt children, people who longed for adventure, longed for life.

The longing permeated the entire camp. It was there at the breakfast table, in the hotel lobby, in the leaves of the trees in the grounds. The little cards curled at the edges where we had forgotten them.

I talked to people who told me every hope they had for the world, and they told me because I listened. I talked to people who told me that no one had ever listened to them like this before.

My meaningless little bit of drivel is that I listen to people. I didn’t know I could, before that summer. I’m still listening to some of those people, even now.

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