It’s sad when a good organization can not make it. The Resource Center of the Americas (more recently La Conexion de las Americas) was a part of my life and I’ll miss it. According to its official announcement, it no longer had the “financial and leadership resources” to continue. I don’t know much more than that. What I do know is that it did many worthwhile things on what I assume was a shoestring budget.
The Resource Center was a unique place. It offered a variety of services to Latinos and Anglos, facilitated intercultural dialogue and friendships and provided information and education, much of it with a left-leaning slant (perhaps that was one of the problems with its long-term sustainability).
What I’ll miss most are the Saturday intercambios (“interchanges” in English), where native Spanish speakers and wannabe Spanish speakers got together in small groups to practice our respective non-native languages. Conversation focused on a designated topic which could be as prosaic as the seasons, high school graduation or Valentines Day or as charged as NAFTA (good or bad?), unionization, or human trafficking. Our numero uno facilitator was Megan, who was the perfect combination of easygoing and structured (probably because she was used to teaching third-graders).
Almost always there was a great combination and variety of people. Some of the Spanish speaking regulars were:
- Tomas, a very educated middle-aged man fromLima, Peru with a vast amount of knowledge of economics and history who works as a car mechanic
- Pablo, a young man from rural Mexico who works at a banquet hall and is serious about improving his English
- Michael, from Romania, with excellent English and Spanish skills who recently married one of our other facilitators, who is from Colombia
(Names are changed to protect privacy).
We Anglos were a motley crew – retirees, professors, students, all with an affinity for the Spanish language and Hispanic/Latino culture.
There was usually coffee and muffins and lots of animated conversation. Many of the conversations continued beyond the confines of the intercambios, along with increased multicultural understanding. And, yes, my Spanish did improve un poquito.
The Resource Center did close its doors once before and rose from the ashes; perhaps it will be revived again in some form. Until then, adios amigos.