Every Thursday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. the Spanish Department at the University of Maine hosts a table where students, faculty and members of the Orono community can discuss topics in Spanish. The Spanish language table meets in 207 Little Hall in the lounge. The topics range from current events to politics and travel. Discussions about any topic are encouraged.
Faculty members Maria Sandweiss and Carlos Villacorta, attend and lead discussions at most of the Spanish lunches. At the table there is a mix of students and members of the Orono community as well. The goal of having the Spanish table is to encourage people to use their Spanish outside of the classroom and to learn new words and culture from other people in attendance.
The Spanish table would like to see more students from the university in attendance. The table encourages speakers of all levels. One student in particular, Ana Bourasseau, came to UMaine from Puerto Rico to study financial economics.
“I like everything about UMaine. I came here because I wanted something different and wanted to leave Puerto Rico,” Bourasseau said .
The attendees at the table agree that they hope to see more involvement from UMaine to create a partnership between international students and UMaine students. Events such as Culturefest and the International Dance Festival are important to the international culture on campus and it give the opportunity for UMaine students to learn about the diverse international student body.
“Sometimes we have people speaking from all over the world, or scholars who can explain their research in the world and about their cultures,” Sandweiss said.
The table mentioned an annual lecture series that takes place in Bangor during Hispanic History Month. The University of Maine College of Liberal Arts and Sciences partnered with Centro Hispano to host this event on campus for the first time this year from Sep. 15 to Oct. 15 in Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium. The speakers talked about poetry, history, politics and many other topics.
The Department of Modern Languages and Classics also hosts lunches for French and German speakers during the week. The department hosts many international events through the semester such as potluck dinners and film series.
“For an international person to be at the university or to live near the university, it’s a great opportunity to see international movies or to participate in the talks,” Sandweiss said.
Sandweiss teaches beginning, intermediate and advanced level Spanish courses at UMaine and also serves as the Faculty Advisor of the Spanish Club.
Other opportunities to reach out to international students include conversation partners sponsored by the Intensive English Institute at UMaine. English speaking students are partnered with international students to improve their English and answer any questions the student may have about American culture.