The Francis Marion University (FMU) community is hosting a new cultural experience this semester. Previously known as Spanish conversation tables, “La Tertulia,” invites students to participate at The Grille on the first and third Tuesday of every month at 2:00 p.m. The meetings are open to all students, regardless of the number of Spanish courses taken.
Maria Garcia Otero, professor of Spanish, explained that she created La Tertulia to try a different approach to the conversation tables that would attract more people in a laid-back atmosphere.
“The purpose of Tertulia is to create a table that is informal and allows people to relax, have fun and meet new people in a Spanish setting.” Garcia Otero said.
Last year’s Spanish conversation meetings were formal and held in a classroom. Translated, “la tertulia” means “a gathering of intellectuals in a public place, such as a coffee shop or cafe,” a pastime that is popular in Spanish culture.
For this reason, Garcia Otero chose to hold the meetings in The Grille. She said The Grille was the most ideal setting for La Tertulia to be held on FMU’s campus. With a more relaxed environment, Garcia Otero explained, it is easier for individuals to speak more comfortably with one another.
In this informal atmosphere, Garcia Otero said, participants are able to discuss anything while speaking in Spanish. For students, the meetings allow them to practice their Spanish outside of the classroom, get additional help and possibly receive extra credit for their Spanish classes.
Jake Kizer, freshman mass communications major, said he attended the meeting because he was interested in pursuing Spanish as his minor. Kizer said he believes La Tertulia would help him explore this opportunity as well as other options in Spanish.
In addition to helping students indentify their strengths and areas in need of improvement, Garcia Otero said La Tertulia also connects students through the Spanish language.
Through research, Garcia Otero discovered that there is a huge community of people of Hispanic heritage on campus as well as students who like to speak Spanish or want to learn it. It is also for this reason Garcia Otero said she believed there needed to be a place for students to be a part of a Spanish-speaking environment outside classroom walls.
Krystal Martinez, sophomore English/Spanish double major, attends meetings to help students who are still learning Spanish practice. Martinez explained that she attends frequently because the meetings are better publicized this year.
Posters for La Tertulia can be seen hanging around campus and are said to be more visually appealing designs to capture student’s attention. Garcia Otero credited the graphics designed by Shuvonta Smalls, senior visual communications major, in helping La Tertulia become successful.
With better publicity, Garcia Otero said, La Tertulia is able to reach more participants and spread more Spanish culture across campus.