Carlos Carrasco, Oberlin College students chat — in his first language, their second

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Carlos Carrasco is used to having to resort to his second language, English, when doing a sit-down interview. But he got to turn the tables on Tuesday night when he sat down with sophomore Kyle Dominy and other students and staff from Oberlin College.

Dominy was tasked with an individual project in his Spanish conversation and communications class to interview a Spanish speaking person and apply it to an area in his life. An Arizona native and a left-handed pitcher on Oberlin’s baseball team, Dominy turned his focus to Spanish-speaking ballplayers.

“At first I thought of my home of Arizona, growing up and playing baseball with a lot of Spanish speakers,” Dominy said.

Oberlin professor Barbara Sawhill reached out to the Indians when she heard what Dominy wanted to do for his project. She thought it would be a great opportunity for him to sit down and interview a professional ballplayer, and she had a prior relationship with the Tribe, bringing a group of students to interview former Indians player Orlando Cabrera in 2011.

“When I knew Kyle was doing this project, I thought, ‘I wonder if, I don’t know if it will happen, but I wonder if (it would happen again), and this is what happened,” Sawhill said.

Dominy sat down with Carrasco for 45 minutes and conducted an interview in Dominy’s second-language – Spanish.

“Obviously it was pretty nerve-wracking, a professional player at the top of their game … (and in) a different language…one that I’m not extremely comfortable with,” Dominy said.

Dominy shared a similar feeling to what Carrasco had to go through when he first got to the United States.

“It was really hard because I came here in 2004 … and it maybe took me five years (to learn), Carrasco said. “They put me with some teachers and I never learned. I just went, ‘OK, let me go straight to the American guys and start talking to them.’”

Carrasco and Dominy both cited baseball communication as the main reason for their need to learn each other’s language.

“You have to know English because (the pitching coach) can say something very important that you have to do with location or to the next batter. If you don’t know (English) then you don’t do it and screw up,” Carrasco said. “I learned English because I need to communicate with my teammates.”

“When I was on the field growing up, it would have been so much easier if I could have spoken Spanish with some of the players,” Dominy added. “It would have brought the team closer together and made it more of a community.”

For Carrasco, it was a rare chance to be interviewed in his first language.

“It was really good. It made me feel good and excited because some people want to learn another language the same way I did,” Carrasco said.

When asked what grade Kyle would get on his interview with Carrasco, Sawhill said that it wasn’t her decision.

“What is interesting is on the projects they grade themselves because he is the one that is doing the learning,” Sawhill said. “That was a great pitching performance there.”

Topics discussed during the interview:

  • How Carrasco has learned the language in order to play
  • How important Carrasco thought it was to learn English to communicate with others
  • Carrasco’s preparation before a game
  • The importance of showing up on time, following the rules and working hard
  • How Carrasco has grown as a player
  • Superstitions
  • Cultural differences between Venezuela and the United States
  • Language transition

–TribeVibe contributor Austin Controulis

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