Español con la comunidad

A guest post by Español teacher Abigail Carle

This year, Meridian’s Spanish classes are working to establish connections with the local Spanish-speaking community. These connections not only provide our students with valuable service opportunities, but also the chance to apply and solidify their language skills with native Spanish speakers. Last Thursday, sixteen middle school Spanish students and their teachers walked from Meridian to the Nate Smith House, a local residence for the elderly. For one hour, students played games and conversed with eight residents, all of whom were born in Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean and Central America. Over the course of the school year, students will visit the Nate Smith House twice a month, each time deepening their relationship with the residents and, simultaneously, their language skills. Through structured activities and guided projects, students will interview residents about their country of origin, their families, their traditions, and their life experience. By the end of the school year, students will generate a book of stories, recipes, songs, games, and more to share with both the Nate Smith and Meridian communities. After their first visit last week, students had many positive things to say about the experience. Seventh grader Jack said, “It was really cool to be able to talk to people outside of school in Spanish.” His classmate Isabel agreed, adding, “It’s important that we go in order to learn about other people’s lives and cultures. I learned about food from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Now I want to travel there!”

Sophomores and Juniors Travel to Ecuador!

In April, 10th and 11th graders traveled to Ecuador on a 10-day service, language, and cultural immersion trip. The group visited Salinas de Bolivar, a town of approximately 1,100 people, where they participated in a number of cooperatives. Alongside locals, students worked for three days making cheese and chocolate, sorting local mushrooms, terracing a garden, and taking part in other needed tasks. 

Students also traveled to the Mindo Cloud Forest, a nonprofit conservation organization that works to protect critically endangered natural habitat in Ecuador. As Spanish teacher Sara McDonald wrote, "We were enamored by the reserve, its sights and sounds, as well as learning about the flora and fauna of Milpe. Our peaceful walk provided us many opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of the land's biodiversity." 

When they returned, students produced videos about their experience to share with the Meridian community. Watch one of their videos below!