OUTPOURING OF LOVE: Grandfather Ben White with grandkids Jero and Thiago in 2017.
OUTPOURING OF LOVE: Grandfather Ben White with grandkids Jero and Thiago in 2017.

Outpouring after granddad’s sweet quest to learn Spanish

A grandfather has melted the hearts of Stanthorpe after asking for help to speak to his Colombian grandchildren.

Ben White was meant to see his Columbian-born grandchildren Thiago and Jero, 5 and 8 respectively, last May for his 70th birthday. Thanks to coronavirus their plans were cancelled.

Desperately missing them and his son, Mr White and his wife Cath tried Facetime, but while his wife was semi-fluent in Spanish, Mr White soon realised the language barrier was creating a divide.

“It’s hard when they’re so little,” he said.

“We do have the occasional video call where we smile at each other a lot and try to use pictures and point.

“But I didn’t learn a language at school so it’s been quite challenging at my age to learn a new skill.”

The besotted grandfather even wore a T-shirt emblazoned with Nos Veremos Pronto Abuelo (we will see you soon grandpa) to keep them close to his heart.

Ben White wearing the T-shirt of the boys that says “we will see you soon grandpa” in Spanish.
Ben White wearing the T-shirt of the boys that says “we will see you soon grandpa” in Spanish.

Still seeking a way to connect with them, the Brisbane grandad decided to reach out to his soon-to-be Stanthorpe neighbours to see if they could help.

Posting his story to Facebook, residents were thrilled to answer the call with many Spanish-speaking locals offering their time and help.

“I just thought it would be a nice way to learn it,” he said.

“I did try Duolingo but there’s no substitute for talking to people, sitting down and slowing it down if needed.”

For The Whites, the positive response had only solidified the move in their heads.

“My wife and I are just blown away by how friendly and wonderful the community is and were getting quite excited about finally coming there and contributing back,” Mr White said.

“We can’t wait to be a part of such a helpful community.

“Now I should also have a few people I can sit down and have a coffee with and learn Spanish.”

Stanthorpe Border Post

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