By: Fallon Mawhinney

Each Thursday night, a group of dedicated students who are interested in learning about the  Spanish language and/or Hispanic culture gather for conversation, snacks and a lot of laughs. Tertulias, which means “gatherings” in Spanish, is a lively and fun evening for anyone looking to further their Spanish skills.

I attended Tertulias on a casual night, and as a Spanish major, I had the opportunity to engage in Spanish conversation. Although the particular night that I attended was a low-key conversation night, Jennifer Coleman, the group’s president, spoke excitedly about upcoming events.

“I believe will have another salsa [dancing] lesson this semester. We had one last semester and there was an awesome turn out. I would also like to organize a trivia night about Hispanic culture or a bingo night sometime in the semester. Lastly, I would hope to end the semester with some sort of potluck in which we all bring foods from different Spanish speaking countries.” These events will be advertised on the group’s Facebook page, which can be found under “Tertulias-UPEI Spanish Club.”

Although the majority of the group, when I attended, spoke fluent or next-to-fluent Spanish, I asked Coleman what non-Spanish speakers can gain from attending Tertulias. She spoke about her personal experience of expanding her knowledge of Spanish and South American culture. Additionally, she noted that club members are often students with a global-minded perspective, and many have already had the chance to travel. Other students who have this perspective may find a like-minded group of individuals at Tertulias. She encouraged anyone with an interest in learning Spanish to attend, and also mentioned that often the club breaks into groups according to fluency levels, to make sure everyone has a chance to practice speaking.

It may come as a surprise to some readers that Tertulias exists, as it seems that UPEI’s Spanish culture has been flying under the radar. In reality, UPEI has a thriving language community that is an excellent addition to any degree. Any students or prospective students interested in the language should note that UPEI offers both a minor and major in Spanish. A minor has seven required courses, while a major has fourteen, with two of the courses being completed at a different institution, preferably abroad at a primarily Spanish speaking university. Students who graduate with proper course requirements can also be awarded a Certificate of Proficiency in Conversational Spanish — an excellent asset in an increasingly global world.

In addition to Tertulias, and Spanish courses for all levels of speakers, UPEI also offers free access for students to Rosetta Stone software, via the Robertson library, with Spanish levels I, II, and III. Any student with an active campus card can sign up via the library circulation desk, and use the language lab computers for access to the program.

UPEI has a quiet, rich community of Spanish speakers and Spanish culture. Tertulias was a wonderful evening full of stories, laughs, and new friends, and I will certainly continue attending. I encourage anyone with an interest in travel, Spanish language, or Hispanic culture to do the same.