Beginning in Fall 2012, the first floor of the Balboa building will be a Spanish-speaking floor and a “living-learning community” known as the Spanish House. One quad will be girls and the other will be guys. Once a week, the residents will share a meal together and have an hour-long class.
“The big thing is that students will be immersed into learning the language and the culture,” Sean Leahy, RD of Balport, said.
For almost an entire year, Thandi Dinani of the Diversity Department and Tim Young of Residence Life have been working together to start living communities again since Vanguard had the Global Village floor a few years ago.
When they initially came up with the idea, Dinani and Young researched other universities such as Baylor, Columbia, Point Loma, University of North Carolina, and Lafayette College. Dinani believes we are living in a global society where languages and cultures are converging.
“With today’s economy, students sometimes can’t go abroad, so [this Spanish floor] is a great way for students to gain cross-cultural experience without having to leave the country,” Dinani said.
Other departments on campus are also getting involved in promoting and encouraging students to develop linguistic and cultural experience.
“The Career Center is highlighting to students who want to go into teaching that it would be beneficial to be bilingual. Our International Business program is encouraging students who want to work in Latin America. We actually have a lot of students who want to be missionaries in Latin America, so the Religion department is also promoting the Spanish floor,” Dinani said.
Junior Celina Frenn is thrilled to be the RA of the Spanish floor next year.
“There aren’t even words to describe how excited I am! I grew up in Latin America, so it is going to be wonderful to use my Spanish in a new environment and encourage others to do the same. I am looking forward to learning more about the language and growing with my fellow residents,” Frenn said.
Frenn wants her residents to feel comfortable enough to break into Spanish when they enter their quad.
“I plan on giving the floor as much of a “Latin flavor” as possible because I want my residents to feel like they live in a different country the moment they walk into their quad,” Frenn said.
The Spanish House aims to provide a safe environment where people will come together to learn a language, whether they know it well or are just starting out.
“The Spanish House will give students the opportunity to jump in and leave a year later feeling much more fluent,” Frenn said.
Frenn believes that having a floor that is solely Spanish speaking will be a challenge, but also a growing experience not only for the residents, but also for her.
“I believe that we can all work together to keep each other accountable and have a wonderful and unforgettable experience,” Frenn said.