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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Spanish culture unites NE students

By Gerrit Goodwin/ reporter

NE students gather around a table at a local restaurant to practice their Spanish, meet fellow classmates and eat Mexican food.Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian
NE students gather around a table at a local restaurant to practice their Spanish, meet fellow classmates and eat Mexican food.
Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian

Students and professors gather around tables at Mi Pueblo, a small Mexican restaurant in North Richland Hills, for their monthly sobremesa to break bread, share stories and immerse themselves in Spanish culture.

NE Spanish and French associate professor Erika Barragan said the group has been meeting on the first Wednesday of every month for close to eight years. She took charge after previous Spanish instructor Jaime Palmer retired.

“It’s a way to bring both the students and the community together, but it’s not exclusive to Spanish students. We welcome and encourage anyone who wants to learn Spanish or is taking a Spanish class to attend,” she said. “The sobremesa provides an opportunity for someone to share a meal with a professor or fellow students and possibly learn something about the culture or the language.”

During the sobremesa, students are encouraged to talk with one another in Spanish, including the waiters, to make the experience more authentic, Barragan said.

“In Hispanic culture, it’s important to sit down and have a conversation after a meal,” she said. “It also allows students to network and meet their peers from other Spanish classes and challenge one another.”

NE student Steven Blood said he originally attended to get extra credit but found it was practical.

“It helped to be immersed, in a way, to gain some practical Spanish skills. I found that it helped me with the verbal side of language, rather than sitting in a class and absorbing it through a book,” he said. “It’s a place where I could practice and not be judged for my lack of speaking skills but rather be encouraged to get out of my comfort of not speaking or giving one-word answers.”

Student Perry Faulk said he has gone to two sobremesas primarily because it counted as extra credit but also because it fit into his schedule and he found it fun.

“It helped by giving me people to try to speak Spanish with in a stress-free environment and because everyone is there trying to learn, so if I don’t speak perfectly, it is fine,” he said. “If you want to become fluent in Spanish, just taking a Spanish class isn’t enough. You have to actually frequently speak a new language in order to learn it, and these events give me an opportunity to do that.”

Barragan said the last sobremesa of the spring semester attracted more students. While she plans for more this semester, she sees the tradition going well into the foreseeable future.

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