Spanish Club offers after-school cultural program

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Photo by Kelsie Chong

Spanish Club Secretary Koa Rodrigues helps to teach Valentine-themed words to first-grader Olyn Kubo. Nine elementary students attended the after-school program at Nāmāhana Dining Hall, along with the club's other officers and adviser on February 10, 2012. The next class will be held on February 23rd.

By Kelsie Chong, features co-editor

Kamehameha Schools Maui Spanish Club officers and adviser Profesora Kristen Handalian headed to Nāmāhana Dining Hall to kick off their first after-school Spanish program with the KSM elementary students on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012.

The idea for this program was born during a meeting of the Spanish Club officers a few weeks ago.

“They talked about giving back to the community in some way,” Profesora Handalian said. Almost all the officers agreed that they would offer a Spanish program to the elementary students after school.

The officers included Presidents Anuhea Kaiaokamalie and Taylor Harris, Vice President Chalee Batungbacal, Historian Kailee Tabaco and Secretary Koa Rodrigues.

The high school students demonstrated and practiced their knowledge of basic Spanish words and phrases to students in the first and second grades from 3-4:00p.m.

“I think it went really well. All of the students were really engaged and into it,” Profesora Handalian said.

Nine of the elementary students who attended were broken up into two groups, one group of four and the other of five.

Spanish Club officers and elementary students spent the first few minutes introducing each other. They also practiced referring to one another as amiga or amigo, meaning “friend” in Spanish.

“The kids are like little sponges,” Profesora Handalian said.

Most of the students were able to pick up the Spanish words quickly after being shown the word on flash cards with a picture illustrating the term once or twice.

“I hope they are able to learn basic Spanish words they can use,” Harris said.

The students later learned Valentine-themed Spanish words including the words for Cupid, candy, hug, kisses and love. They also practiced pronouncing and enunciating each word.

The students were then given time to design a Valentine’s Day card and talk story with their Spanish Club officers.

“I think it [program] went good for the first time…I enjoy working with little kids and their imagination,” Batungbacal said. She hopes to be a part of the after-school program for the next session on February 23.

KSM elementary educational assistant Ms. Sanoe Cabantning says that exposing the young students to other languages is a positive experience because, “their brains are still developing, making it easier to grasp information.”

She hopes to see the Spanish Club be a part of their program again, as well as any other ethnic clubs from the high school who wish to join.

It was also an educational experience for the officers who took the role of Spanish teachers.

Working with younger kids, “You have to be patient and keep them involved while teaching,” said Rodrigues. “They have a scattered mind and they only can focus on one thing for a short period of time.”

Profesora Handalian said that the program was beneficial for the high school students.

“Because they are able to work with younger students and teach the material, it improves their knowledge. You have to know it in order to teach it,” Profesora Handalian said. “I hope they’ll take away the enjoyment of spreading awareness of Spanish culture.”

The Spanish Club plans to have the visits every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month.

They plan to open the experience up to the rest of the club’s members due to the success of the first session. The next club meeting is still to be determined, and further notice will be posted in the daily bulletin.