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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Practicing outside the classroom

Lauren Bourque ’19, co-president of the Spanish Club. PHOTO: ROSE BARRETT ’20 / THE HAWK

Spanish Club returns after a year-long break

The Spanish Club has returned after a year-long hiatus and the two new student leaders hope to attract others to the organization to promote a deeper understanding of the Spanish language and Spanish-speaking cultures.

Lauren Bourque ’19, co-president of the Spanish Club, said getting more students of all proficiency levels involved is the club’s top priority.

“People think they have to be at a certain level of fluidity in their Spanish, but this is a club for everyone and anyone who is interested in the language and becoming better speaking with it,” Bourque said. “It’s also for anybody who is interested in Spanish culture and learning more about what is happening not only in our city but in the country and the world.”

Beth Hagovsky, director of Student Leadership & Activities, said every year, 10 to 20 student clubs don’t return from previous years or don’t get enough interest to keep going, so the Spanish Club is not alone in its troubles.

While many clubs fail to continue because student leaders graduate, for the Spanish Club, one of the biggest barriers is studying abroad.

The club encourages students to go abroad, but doing so has made it hard to keep the club going while students in leadership positions are away.

“Unfortunately, that study abroad factor has been part of the disconnect for continuing leadership,” said Elaine Shenk, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish in the department of modern and classical languages. “We promote students to study abroad. It is just a natural problem for the club.”   

Esther Recio, visiting professor of Spanish and the club’s faculty advisor, said the club adds value to the Spanish department by providing a forum for students to practice and gain confidence in speaking the language.

Club-sponsored activities also help students fulfill a requirement to attend cultural events for some upper-level courses.

“I think it’s an extra learning and support for what they are learning in classes,” Recio said.

Bourque, a communication studies major who studied abroad in Madrid in the fall 2017 semester, said the club offers her an opportunity to continue practicing her Spanish.

“I didn’t feel confident in my Spanish until I was abroad, and I had to practice it everyday and use it every day,” Bourque said. “Giving the opportunity on campus for students to come practice Spanish helps them reinforce what they are learning in class and also would then help improve their confidence about it.”

For student leaders of the club, the best way to counteract the effect members studying abroad has is simply to recruit more students, which Bourque said she hopes to do by advertising events better and promoting them on social media.

“I know the people in the club enjoy the club, so when they come to an event it’s great because we have the board of people who are there,” Bourque said. “But I really want to see underclassmen coming, especially because they are the ones who are carrying on the club next year.”

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