Spanish students explore cultural similarities and differences during Progreso Latino trip

By Elena Peterson, upper school Spanish

In December, the Spanish 5 class visited Progreso Latino, a multi-service non-profit, community organization in Central Falls to empower RI´s Latino and immigrant communities to achieve greater socio-economic progress.

Having the opportunity to connect with the Latino community close to Moses Brown was an eye-opening experience. During our time in the classroom, we have studied the similarities and differences between our cultures. However, there was never a way for us to understand how it is to interact with Spanish speaking people in real life situations. While visiting Progreso Latino, being able to read and play with the kids was fun and informative. We got to see how these children could understand us in English as well as the little Spanish that we know. Most of the kids could speak both Spanish and English fluently which was a surprise to us. We did not know whether the kids would understand us and thought for sure that they would make fun of our broken Spanish. Therefore, there was hesitation to volunteer to read to the kids. Once we got the courage to do it, the kids were sitting in front of us with wide eyes and the nervousness went away. Not only did we read English and Spanish books to the classes, but we also got the chance to interact with some individual children and read one-on-one to them. It was a surprise to hear them switch so effortlessly between English and Spanish when the context of the book called for it or when they spoke to us in general. The classroom games we played with them also made us recall our childhoods when we would sit with toys, blocks, or cook meals in a make-believe kitchen. This plastic food was entirely different from our meals at our next location, Viva Mexico. At Viva Mexico, we attempted to order and speak to the waitress in Spanish, and though a little shaky at times, we got our point across. The authentic food, along with the colorful mural and historic photographs on the walls, provided a type of learning that was difficult to recognize at a glance. Trying out our language skills in these real-life settings is education on its own, even when we don’t realize it.