The Spanish Culture and Language Association is offering a space for students to practice conversational Spanish and engage in cultural exchange in a casual setting.
“As a Spanish instructor, I think the most important (thing) is to continue having meetings to help the students of the University of Houston to speak the language,” said primary officer and doctoral student in the department of Hispanic studies Edgar Vargas. “The students will benefit from the organization by practicing Spanish and learning about the Spanish-speaking world.”
While traditional ways of learning a language, such as studying abroad, are available to students, the SCLA hopes to provide a weekly place for language and culture immersion at UH. In past semesters, the group has hosted numerous events such the international poetry festival “Grito de Mujer” (The Scream of a Woman) and a visit of the famous Mexican writer Juan Villoro.
The SCLA is revamping its vision this semester, hoping to provide new resources and innovative ways to attract new students and expand its membership.
“I think there will be new people — we are 69 members now and the number is growing,” Vargas said. “We have new leaders, and they are really enthusiastic about the language and the culture, so we will have new blood and new ideas.”
Some of the “new blood” includes students who are not studying Spanish, but simply want to learn about the language and culture.
“I have a love for cultures that has taken me many places around the world as well as opened my eyes to a multitude of new ideas,” said second-year Latin American Politics doctorate candidate Jonathan Solis. “Language, I think, is one way to tap into a culture, to really understand it.”
Solis hopes to interact with other students who have a basic level of Spanish and are looking for someone to practice it with.
With more members this semester, the organization aims for new horizons. One of the things they hope to do this year is incorporate a Spanish-to-English conversation exchange, where students can also help other students improve their English skills.
“I think the best way to learn a language is through immersion,” said sophomore Spanish major Camille Marvin. “This group will provide at least a little bit of time to experience that immersion and practice the language in a casual setting.”