HOT SPRINGS, AR — The Spanish Department of the Office of Distance Education at ASMSA in Hot Springs presented the Spanish immersion workshop for the Arkansas Foreign Language Teachers Association (AFLTA) at the Spring Conference in April 27th.
The participants had the opportunity to dive into an environment where the Latino Flavor was the main ingredient, combined with the sense of family and unity that characterizes every Latin activity. More than 10 different countries were represented among the hosts and participants.
The objectives of the immersion activity were to give the attendees an opportunity to practice their Spanish and also to provide a wide variety of techniques and cultural knowledge to share with their students, thereby enriching their teaching experience. As Cat Mince, AFLTA’s past-President, described the activity, “After leaving the immersion workshop, participants were inspired to share their renewed passion for Spanish.”
One of the main activities described the small town of Calderón, in Ecuador, and how the locals use “mazapan” (made from wetting bread) as the raw material for artistic crafts. These crafts are later sold as souvenirs to the tourists.
The participants had hands-on experience creating with this kind of material. Also, various Latin rhythms, cuisine, and a dance show were included to increase the sense of Latin Culture in the workshop. Melanie Husley, AFLTA President elect, stated: “The Spanish immersion session was wonderful. There was lots of fun, and informational activities. The crafts, the salsa, and the food (especially) were all awesome. Thanks ODE! I look forward to attending future workshops. Excellent job! Great authentic resources.”
Part of the event’s big success was due to the multicultural staff from the Office of Distance Education (ODE). Instructors from El Salvador, Honduras, México, Ecuador, Perú, and Colombia, as well as the United States, blended together to create the best multicultural environment for this activity. “I always love the immersion workshops. Every year they get better and better! This year the activities were so much fun and the food was great,” said Cindy Reyes, from Sylvan Hills Middle School. Another ingredient for the recipe of success was the participation of many sponsors who gave their support for the activity.
Among the ODE and ASMSA teachers who helped on the realization of this activity were:
Martín Valdivia, and
In times of cultural differences within the USA, this is the kind of activity that improves our knowledge about other cultures and greater tolerance is developed. More activities like this will build a more unified and stronger America.