Today I got a chance to interview another very interesting person in San Lucas Toliman. His name is Jonathan Gelez, and he is a translator who has been working with the Medical Missions Foundation team at the hospital with us all week. He has translated for the staff and patients here, as well as helping Cindy Rudolph with a health education skit she does with “Chicky” the sneezing chicken, as I mentioned in another post. He has done an excellent job with this, especially at the school today with the children. He did very well at the head of the classroom, helping to teach the children about how to prevent the spread of germs.
Jonathan is quite a remarkable young man for being only 21 years of age. He was originally born in France and came to San Lucas when he was eight years old. His parents and two siblings live here as well. He has a 14-year-old brother and a 19-year-old sister. He also has an older half-sister who still lives in France. His father is a technician at a local television station and his mother is a seamstress. Jonathan also works at another television station, doing similar work as is father, in addition to translating for groups at the hospital.
Since French was Jonathan’s native language, he had to learn Spanish to start school here in San Lucas. He says he learned by playing with children on the street, and also in school. When I asked him how he learned to speak English, he replied, “I learned English by watching TV.” He realized that not only could he speak it, he also understood it. I asked him how it was that he became a translator. He said that he once saw an English-speaking woman who was trying to communicate with someone, but no one could understand her. Knowing that he could speak both Spanish and English, he realized he could help them understand one another. Someone he knew at the mission approached him and asked him to become a translator and he accepted. He has been doing so for one year. He says he loves working around the doctors and patients at the hospital and getting to know them.
Jonathan has many talents and interests, as well as one very big dream. I asked him what he likes to do in his spare time. He likes biking, music, and graphic design on the computer. He plays two instruments: the drums and guitar. His taste in music is mainly pop and punk, and his favorite band is Green Day. When I asked him what he wants to be someday, expecting him to say a musician or graphic designer, he said his “main dream” is to become a veterinarian and open an animal clinic and shelter here in San Lucas. He is a true animal lover, he says, and has two dogs of his own named Kisser and Alf (yes, Alf). He says not only will having an animal shelter and clinic here help save the animals, it will also have a positive effect on the health and well-being of the people. The animals, especially the dogs which are numerous here, carry many parasites and diseases. They roam the streets and go in and out of the homes and businesses, among the people. By improving the health of the animals, you improve the health of the people in the community. It is a better environment for all. Jonathan is not exactly certain how he will acquire the education needed to become a veterinarian, but he thinks perhaps saving money and possibly taking some online courses would be a good start.
At the end of our discussion, Jonathan wanted to add that one unique thing about him is that he is vegan. It is not surprising, as much as he loves animals. We wish Jonathan all the very best in his future, whatever it brings. We have enjoyed working with him this week and look forward to seeing him again.