Miramichi Embraces Latino Culture
It was an evening filled with laughter and cultural diversity, as Canadians and Latinos merged for a few hours at the Carrefour Beausoleil’s Art Gallery last month. The event was a fiesta (Spanish for party)
presented by Andina Enterprises to congratulate its first groups of students who recently completed a 30-hour Basic Spanish course with Mrs. Nadine Dunn, president of the company. Thirteen students received certificates attesting their achievement. Included in those recipients was Evelyn Fletcher, host family co-ordinator for School District #16’s Miramichi International Student Program.
“By inviting our new Latin American friends to the fiesta, it presented them with an opportunity to showcase some of their cultural aspects, including food, dancing, and games. Accordingly, one of the Mexican girls brought some salsa picante from her country to dip in with some nachos, while another made a traditional Latino dessert called arroz con leche (rice with milk). To warm people up, a dance teacher from the Dominican Republic was also in attendance teaching us some dance routines while giving instructions in Spanish! And also, two of the Mexican girls showed some of the Canadians how to play a game of luck called piriñola. Usually it is played with money, but we played with chocolates.
“On the other hand, some of my French Canadian students had prepared a little humorous skit all spoken in Spanish to showcase their new skills,” said Mrs. Dunn. “They had prepared that skit in secret and presented it at the beginning of the evening. It was great to see them take initiative like that, I was very proud.”
“The main idea behind the fiesta was to immerse my Canadian students with some of the Mexican exchange students in a festive atmosphere so that they could practice a little bit of Spanish while celebrating their accomplishment,” said Mrs. Dunn. “Practising the language as much as possible is a key component in order to retain those skills, and since we have 22 Mexican students currently residing in host families from all over Miramichi, we have to take advantage of that fact.
Not a stranger on learning a new language and findings ways to retain it, Mrs. Dunn, who is French, learned her Spanish when she was only 16 years old through a 9-month long cultural exchange in Costa Rica. Fourteen years later, she has been able to preserve a strong base of the language through her studies, encounters (lots of Latin American friends!), and of course, teaching the language.
“I have still much to learn myself, but my experience has taught me that you never completely lose what you have learned, and it is through practising that it all comes back to you . . . just like riding a bicycle. I believe I can give people a strong foundation of the language on which to build on, and will hire native Spanish speakers to teach my upper level classes for those who wish to continue their learning.”
Mrs. Dunn announced that more classes will be given this winter, including Español I (intro to Spanish) again, Español II (the sequel), Español para Viajar, which is a shorter and more intense version targeted at people who vacation in Latin American destinations in the Winter or early Spring, and finally, Español 1-2-3 para los niños, which will be a 2 ½-hour workshop for kids aged five and up to learn a little bit of Spanish.
Mrs. Dunn hopes that her partnership-based business will expand to become a full-fledged language institute able to offer a multitude of languages on demand in the near future.
For more information on language classes contact Nadine Dunn at (506) 624-9037. For more information about the Miramichi International Student Exchange Program, contact Evelyn Fletcher at (506) 627-4573.