People and Places
Spanish sojourn a write of passage By Kate Sears

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A strong sense of wanderlust and a passion for words led Emily Westmoreland to acquire a position with the Australian Government in Madrid for the past two years. Every work day it was a bilingual environment that Emily thrived in after studying a Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) and a Diploma of Languages (Spanish) at RMIT. However, Wednesdays proved a challenge at first with only Spanish allowed to be spoken in the office.

Tantalising tapas, cheap but good wine and free food with every beer ordered also enticed this Frankston woman to make the big move to Spain. “It’s a very sexy language too,” she says. “Language is a culture, and culture is understanding.” 

This worldly traveller said it was great being home for summer. “But it’s surreal. Sometimes I wonder if I ever went away at all. I’ve noticed the change in Frankston after being away for two years. I’m excited for the new development.”

Having worked in a book shop in Frankston, Emily found casual work in a Madrid book store that held a short story competition, and she was given the job of reading 460 2000-word entries. The winner will be announced during Spain’s Day of the Book, when all book shops are open for 24 hours and hold literature events. Can we bring this to Melbourne please?

“I’m an avid book reader. And it’s proven that the presence of books in homes significantly improves the literacy before children even start primary school.”

The next page in Emily’s story includes flying to London to explore publishing and editing roles as pathways into literacy. Her dream is to come back to Melbourne and open her own book shop that houses a bilingual imprint, printing children’s books in community languages.

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