Monthly hour en español seeks to foster community

  • Stone Soup Cafe volunteer Ester Gonzalez Martin helps organize Spanish Hour once a month. The activity encourages Spanish speakers of all levels and backgrounds to come out, converse in Spanish and share a meal. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Spanish Hour is a monthly activity at Stone Soup Cafe in Greenfield that encourages Spanish speakers of all levels and backgrounds to come out, converse in Spanish and share a meal. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Spanish Hour is a monthly activity at Stone Soup Cafe in Greenfield that encourages Spanish speakers of all levels and backgrounds to come out, converse in Spanish and share a meal. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 1/23/2022 11:34:32 AM

GREENFIELD — As an expansion of Stone Soup Cafe’s community-building mission, it is now offering a monthly Spanish Hour, inviting both native and non-native Spanish speakers to share conversation and a meal.

Held on the third Saturday of each month from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., Spanish Hour is organized by Stone Soup volunteer Ester Gonzalez Martin, who aims to bring together Spanish speakers from around the area for “informal” community bonding.

“It really is about community and using those resources to grow,” she said. “All levels are welcome and people shouldn’t be worried about making mistakes.”

Gonzalez Martin, who moved to Greenfield from Spain five years ago and teaches German at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, pulls from her teaching experience and brings conversation starters and ice-breaker activities to spur conversation for those who might be nervous about their experience level.

She said the idea for Spanish Hour came through her experience of hearing folks in Greenfield using Spanish and she thought it’d be fun to bring people together. Gonzalez Martin added having people “getting to know one another” is one of the main goals behind the activity.

“I hear a lot of Spanish in Greenfield,” she said. “We have so many people that speak Spanish and so many people practicing Spanish ... talking to other volunteers, we thought it might be a nice idea.”

Spanish Hour coincides with Stone Soup Cafe’s Saturday meal, which Gonzalez Martin said provides a nice opportunity to show people the event while also giving them a space to eat and talk to others. She added Stone Soup’s Executive Chef and Director Kirsten Levitt tries to coordinate Spanish and Latin meals on the Saturdays when Spanish Hour is held to really get attendees into the spirit.

There has been a small stream of people participating over the past few months, but Gonzalez Martin expects that number to grow as more people learn about it and the weather begins to warm up. Depending on weather, Spanish Hour is usually held outside Stone Soup, but it can be moved inside the All Souls Church if needed.

“We’re trying to be more consistent, so people have some idea of when to come,” Gonzalez Martin said. “Zoom is definitely an option if there’s interest, too.”

Spanish Hour is also slowly cultivating a small library of books written in Spanish to lend to those who may not be able to find them elsewhere.

Jonathan Dinsmore, who has helped organize the activity as well, said Spanish Hour is a “good opportunity” to branch out and talk to people in a casual environment.

“It’s informal, laid-back and there’s no pressure,” Dinsmore said. “It’s a good way to meet people you wouldn’t meet otherwise.”

The next Spanish Hour will be held Feb. 19, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Gonzalez Martin will be there ready to help out.

“The idea of Spanish Hour goes along with Stone Soup’s mission of building a community,” she said. “It’s all about helping people out.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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