With events ranging from a Mexican bingo night to a discussion of social change through music, there’s something for everyone at the inaugural Spanish Language and Culture Week. Starting on the 24th September, it’s got plenty for families, Spanish language learners, dancers and everyone who wants to experience Hispanic culture. Most of the events are free, and the organisers and hosts come from all over Latin America, as well as Spain. We talked to some members of the Spanish team at Massey University who made this cultural fest happen — read on for a sneak peek into how they made it happen and some of the awesome things you can do.
SQUARE: What is the Spanish Language and Culture Week?
It’s Massey University’s initiative to promote the learning of languages in general and of Spanish in particular, apart from prompting a celebration of NZ’s wonderful multiculturalism by showcasing Hispanic culture and its rich variety. It’s also an exciting way to collaborate with the local community (Spanish associations, city libraries, schools and local businesses), the Spanish and Latin American Embassies and other universities (in this case, AUT and the University of Canterbury) where Spanish is taught.
SQUARE: How did it come about? What sparked the idea?
Massey University has been promoting Spanish at schools for a number of years. We’ve been running language, culture and music workshops aimed at teachers and primary and high school teachers. This time we want to concentrate our efforts in a more visible manner by scheduling events in a single week of the year that, hopefully, will come to be clearly identified and expected in the NZ calendar all over the country. The idea is to turn it into a nationwide annual event. Being this the first ever Spanish Week in Aotearoa activities will be held in four cities, with plans to extend them to other places from next years as we know that interest in Spanish keeps growing.
SQUARE: What kind of events does it include?
Spanish language learning, handcraft workshops, cooking, poetry, talks on Latin American culture, salsa lessons, music performances, and games. Most of these events are free of charge and will be ran by the Massey Spanish team, members of the Spanish and Latin American community, local artists, teachers from AUT and the University of Canterbury, and primary and high school teachers.
SQUARE: Do we need to speak any Spanish to come along to the language classes?
Absolutely not! Our classes are designed to offer elementary communication tools for beginners. You’ll get to learn how to say from Hola amigos to Me gusta el chocolate (I like chocolate). And you don’t need to know how to dance salsa or tango to come along to the dance lessons either!
SQUARE: Which event are you most excited about?
All of them! But you should definitely look out for the music (tango, salsa, choir) in Christchurch, in Wellington, in Auckland, and in Palmy!
SQUARE: Do you have any tips for people keen to make the most of this week?
Have the programme ready and take a look, there are activities all throughout the week and for different audiences, the family included. Everyone interested in the Spanish language and culture is welcome to come along and enjoy.