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Meet the Bib

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By Karla Ortiz

 

Gustavo Ruiz, Administration, Atención

A newspaper, in addition to designers, reporters, and editors, also needs an entire administrative staff to do things like sales, billing, and reception. Their work is based on customer service. That task, at Atención, is handled by Gustavo Ruiz, or “Gus,” as we all know him.

Most of our staff’s ability to speak foreign languages has impressed many clients, who, by phone, have even come to believe they are talking to a native English speaker. Gus is no exception. He is so good at English that he even teaches English to children and adults at the Community Development Center (CEDECOM) in the Las Cuevitas area of San Miguel de Allende. In addition to his work at the paper, Gus plans out his classes daily, trying to find different methods to facilitate the learning process and transmit the language in a simple and fun way.

His skill and passion for learning English began as a child, mainly because of the influence of his father, who worked with foreigners all throughout Gus’s childhood. His father always told him that he should learn English so that later he could be an interpreter between his parents and English speakers. Although they did not offer English classes in elementary school, he was still interested in learning the language. Finally, in high school he was assigned to English classes starting in his first year.

Gus is the eldest of six children. It was difficult for his mother to take him to preschool, because she needed him to take care of his younger siblings. His parents chose not to enroll him in preschool since it was not mandatory for children to attend preschool at that time. But even so, when he entered elementary school, he had good great diction and reading skills and was selected in his very first year as master of ceremonies to honor the flag in a ceremony that used to take place every week in Mexican elementary schools. During his childhood, he cared only about playing and enjoying himself. He never concerned himself with questions like, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Although he was very reserved, he knew how to amuse himself after school.

He later found a taste for sports, thanks to a primary school teacher who instilled in him a love of basketball, which he played until finishing high school. He even represented his school in the state championships. For basketball training, the coach played videos of strategic plays in English without subtitles. When the players were interviewed, no one knew what they were saying. That desire to understand what was said in the videos also fed Gus in his desire to learn another language.

Before the library

English was not the only challenge Gus has set for himself. At the Universidad Tecnológica del Norte de Guanajuato in Dolores Hidalgo (Technical University of Northern Guanajuato), Gus studied for a degree in business management. There, his studies were divided into two segments. The first two years covered the study of technical aspects. The second part normally takes two years, but circumstances forced Gus to take 10 years before actually getting his degree.

After finishing his technical studies, he traveled to the city of Querétaro to do an internship at the Hotel Fiesta Inn, but that lasted only a short time. He soon returned to San Miguel. Although continuing to commute daily to Dolores Hidalgo for classes, he took a job at Banamex, where he stayed for five “productive” years although it was slowing down his studies. He eventually left the job because he had to go in very early in the morning, and the pace was just so exhausting that he had no energy or desire for any other activities.

After he left Banamex, he found a job at the Biblioteca Pública, where he worked for four years on the library’s administrative staff. He finally found the time to finish his degree. It was still very exhausting for him to maintain this complicated life, doing personal tasks, working, and helping his wife take care of his son. After graduating, he spent four more years in the administration area of the library. He then joined the Atención team, who he has been with for one year.

Family Life

His five years in Banamex were “productive” because he met his wife Verónica, he says. At first, they were workmates but as time went on, they started to see each other socially. They were together as a couple for four years, until 2012, when they decided to take the big step and get married. By 2014, they had their son, Sebastián.

Since he was eager to build a family, Gus says that for him being a father was not a great challenge. He and his wife made the decision consciously. They knew that many challenges and difficulties would come their way, but they were willing to go through with it. “There’s no school for parents, no matter how old you are. It’s always going to be hard to be a dad and be an example for your family and kids,” Gus said.

Task at the work

Gus considers his duties at the newspaper to be simple. Basically, as the person in charge of the administration of the paper, most of his time is spent dealing directly with clients, either in person, by phone, or by email, in English or Spanish, he says. Although we know he does more than that, every Wednesday before the paper goes to press, Gus checks to see if the ads of all the customers who sent them in have actually appeared in the paper. He sends out invoices, is in touch with the sales and design staff, and sometimes has to organize the lunch order when the staff decides to order out.

A solid future

Although his life is now much more stable, he still has big plans for himself and his family. Since he has been a language enthusiast his entire childhood, his goal now is to become a polyglot and study online to teach Spanish as a second language. He wants to find a job at a university abroad so that he can take his family with him and give them access to a better life. But he has not yet decided which country he would like to work in. He says it will be one where he will find a good opportunity for economic development for his family. Among the options he’s considering are Brazil, Canada, Sweden, Norway, or the United States.

It is his dream to be able to communicate with people from other countries, to be able to engage in conversations in their own languages, and to learn more about their culture.

For him, a perfect day would include working on what he likes—teaching Spanish to university students from other countries—which he hopes to do in a few more years. His child would be studying too, learning new languages, interacting with people from other countries, getting to know the culture he’s living in, and enriching his personal, emotional and academic life—having a balance as a person. At the end of this ideal day, his child would return home, see and talk with his family, and chat in English or Spanish.

He attributes his love of languages as the one thing that has allowed his dreams to keep growing. He would like his fellow librarians, and members in general, to give themselves the opportunity to learn new languages that expand their horizons.

“It doesn’t matter what language they want to learn, because no matter what you do, if you know a language other than your native one, you can get better job and economic opportunities and meet new people from other countries. You open a new door to a world of possibilities,” he said.

 

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