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 Comida and Conversation

Posted on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011

Comida and Conversation, or Food and Conversation, is the newest installment in the long list of Santa Clara Arrupe placements. Designed by Environmental Studies lecturer, Patrick Archie, Comida and Conversation partners one native English speaker with one native Spanish speaker from the Alma Community in San Jose. After a family-style dinner, peppered with vegetables from area Bronco Urban Gardens, partners speak in Spanish for thirty minutes and in English for thirty minutes.

Senior Spanish major Richard Jaramillo is familiar with Arrupe placements which are frequently required in the Spanish department. Jaramillo likes the one-to-one aspect of this placement. After just three weeks of the program, it is quickly becoming his favorite placement. "I think Comida and Conversation is great. It is truly engaging," Jaramillo said.

Maria Gallardo is an English Second Language (ESL) teacher at Sacred Heart Community Service and is pleased that Comida and Conversation gives her students another outlet to speak English. "By coming to the Alma Center, they not only have the opportunity to practice English but to learn other cultures and make new friends," Gallardo said.

Junior Gavin Powell is new to the Arrupe Partnerships program, but has enjoyed the time he has spent at Alma so far. Along with retaining his Spanish skills Powell is making personal connections with the community. "[My partner] has told me a lot about her life and the struggles she has gone through. I am taking away a better appreciation for the people in that neighborhood," he said.

While the Spanish-speaking aspect of Comida and Conversation is important to students' success in classes, it is the personal connection to the community and individuals that makes the experience so rich.

"Each week I leave Comida and Conversation having heard someone's story. It is about getting to know someone by sitting down with them and talking," Jaramillo said. "The strength of the program is the sharing of personal stories that drives the learning," he added.

Comida and Conversation will be available for placements next quarter, but students, faculty and staff who are interested in speaking Spanish are more than welcome to particpate as well.

 By Emily Orbanek '11, Sustainability Intern.

Tags: Community Engagement, Curriculum, Education and Research, Environmental Justice, Food, Program Highlights