Intercambio: A Mix of Culture and Collaboration

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Every Thursday, students gather in G-2 to experience a collaboration of intercultural exchange through various types of food, socialization, and more. Native Spanish speakers are able to practice English, and native English speakers Spanish, contributing to a prominent center of cross-cultural interaction between Spanish-speaking and English-speaking students. 

Intercambio was formed in 2012, originally created by members from the organization Global Leaders. They were originally inspired to create this diverse club in order to practice and improve their Spanish-speaking skills for their upcoming trip to Guatemala. Since then, this group has expanded its goals to provide a culture-rich community between students with a motive to learn about each other’s cultures, languages, and cuisines. In addition to weekly meetings, Intercambio offers extra credit to participants in Spanish classes and opportunities to participate in fundraisers and enjoyable events. 

Intercambio is also part of the M-A Bridge Club, which supports newly arrived students at M-A financially and helps their transition to the school. By selling Gatorades in G-2 during and after school and partnering with the Latinos Unidos of M-A Club (LUMA) on special occasions, Intercambio has raised plenty of money to support newly arrived students. The money they have raised goes towards purchasing supplies for students, and helping them to pay for dances, games, and school-wide events throughout the year. 

John Nelson, an English I and English Second Language (ESL) teacher, supervises Intercambio. As a speaker of English, Spanish, and Norwegian, Nelson expresses the importance of learning languages in our own community. He said, “In order to learn a language, whether you are Spanish-speaking or English-speaking, you have to leave your community and enter into a different one.” 

“One of the most underserved parts of our population is our Spanish speakers and English learners,” Nelson commented. Nelson takes the opportunity as an ESL educator of over 80 students to encourage collaboration between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking students, ultimately fostering an intercultural community.

After a successful Club Rush, Intercambio kicked off the start of its 11th year with a big group of students ready to learn and collaborate together. 

Senior Meena Alvi, a member of Intercambio since sophomore year said, “Intercambio has really helped improve my Spanish speaking skills. Interacting with people that are actually from parts of South and Central America has helped me learn about different things like dialects and pronunciations.” Alvi is currently on the board of Intercambio.

Another board member, Senior Camila Gallardo added, “For me, learning English was really hard, especially for pronunciation and communicating with others. Intercambio helped me develop the ability to talk to other people.” 

Currently, Intercambio is looking for a diverse group of members to join the board and help support and guide club meetings and events. Nelson said, “We are working on figuring out who is going to run it for both native Spanish speakers and native English speakers, so we have members of both communities to guide leadership.” Along with a diverse board, Nelson is looking for students willing to participate for the interest of learning a language and collaborating with fellow students.

Isabel is a sophomore at M-A beginning her first year of journalism. She is excited to write about exciting events and subjects. Outside of school, some of her hobbies include playing tennis, water polo and swimming for M-A, and reading, drawing, and writing.

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