If you hear Spanish “jaja’s” floating through the air in the third-floor connector on Tuesday evenings, don’t be alarmed; you’re probably just overhearing the laughter at Spanish Café.Designed for Spanish-speakers of all skill levels, the Spanish Café offers a scheduled place for people to practice their Spanish conversation skills.
Quinn Brenneke and Phil Scott, both freshman, started organizing the café as a regular, but informal way to keep Spanish in their lives.
“Individual motivation to practice Spanish is hard, so it is nice to have something to go to,” said Scott.
The inspiration for the café came from Brenneke’s experiences volunteering at the Red Cross.
“I helped coordinate an English café for refugees and immigrants who didn’t want to take a class but wanted a safe environment to learn and practice English,” said Brenneke. “I thought it’d be cool to start something similar here.”
The activities at the café change weekly and have ranged from dancing to playing word games to watching a telenovela (a Spanish-language soap opera).
When it comes to picking activities, the organizers aim to make things interesting.
“We think about what’s fun to do in English, and then change it to Spanish,” said Scott. They also try to bring in some Hispanic culture by coordinating with Gabby Pina, who most recently led salsa dancing at the café.
The people who come to the café range from beginning level Spanish speakers to native speakers and are united by a desire to practice. “There are no limitations to the people who are welcome,” said Brenneke, “people should come and try it at least once.”
One Spanish Café attendee, first-year Emily Grimes, took three years of Spanish in high school. “I don’t have an opportunity to speak Spanish daily in my social circles or in class, but I don’t want to forget my Spanish from high school,” said Grimes.
The laidback atmosphere at the café makes it a safe space. Anybody can come and go as they please. The only stipulation is that everyone speaks Spanish as much as they can.
“There is nothing negative about the group…we are here to help each other out,” said Brenneke.
Brenneke and Scott have found that even after the designated hours of the café, attendees come across each other and speak Spanish.
“We feel comfortable speaking in Spanish outside of the café because we know the other person shares the same goal of practicing,” said Scott.
As for future café activities, nothing is set in stone.
“We are open to do anything,” said Brenneke. “We have talked about cooking in the past, so that might be fun.”
The next Spanish Café will be from 9 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8 (the first Tuesday after break). Watch the communicator for details. And next time you hear the Spanish “jaja’s” on Tuesday evenings, don’t hesitate to join in.