Half-Kiwi, half-Spanish, and whole-heartedly passionate, new Spanish teacher Cristina Armstrong is set to teach here at Nayland for at least the next two terms.
Cristina was born in Madrid, Spain, where she grew up. At twenty she embarked for university in England and eventually came to visit New Zealand. “I just totally fell in love with the country,” she said. After meeting her husband in Ireland and having their first child, they moved to New Zealand to raise their family.
Cristina has lived in New Zealand for the past 8 years. Being half-Kiwi herself, she feels a deep connection to the country. “I guess it’s the other part of me, the half that may have been a little bit hidden for a while.”
Her kids go to Victory Primary School. “There are quite a few Columbian students there too, so they get a chance to speak Spanish,” she said. “When you’re not fully from a place, it’s really nice that everybody can share their culture, and you’re not the different one.”
The Columbian students here at Nayland play a big role in Whaea Cristina’s classes too. “[The Kiwi students] get to hear real conversations, and they have somebody to practice with. You get the slang words, it’s really beneficial both ways.”
In her spare time, Whaea Cristina has a love for hiking – one of the things that initially drew her to New Zealand. On their last trip to Spain, together with her husband, parents and children, they walked 100 kilometres of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage track across northern Spain. “My kids are little, you know, they’re 7 and 9, so they were feeling super proud of themselves.” She also enjoys reading and developing photography.
Whaea Cristina often goes back to Spain with her husband and children to reunite with family – which includes her grandmother (going strong at 93 years old), uncles, aunts, cousins, the whole lot. “Family’s a really big thing in Spain, when we meet up we all meet up, big lunches that go on until late evenings,” she said. But despite the visits, there’s always a tug from back home. “You miss your culture, you miss your language. I’m lucky because I get to speak it to my husband and to my kids.” And of course, to all of her new students.
By student reporter Maya Jayasena