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We have some knowledge of Spanish, but we invite guests (all members of U3A) who have more confidence in spoken Spanish, in order to stimulate varied conversation. Many members of this group also attend the fortnightly Café y Charla get-togethers at the Grampian Hotel. Although this is not an official U3A group, most of those who attend are members of U3A. Subjects covered are as various as one might expect from any other conversation group!
This past year the group has enjoyed reading from cover to cover “Senderos Fronterizos” by Francisco Jiménez. The autobiography recounts the life of an immigrant Mexican family of low paid pickers in the United States. Francisco - Paco to his family or Frankie to his American school mates - tells of the family’s struggle to survive when their father becomes too disabled to work; the jobs taken on by the two oldest boys before and after school; their living conditions; their faith; their strong family bond. But above all this is the story of Paco’s schooldays and his over-riding desire to succeed at school in every area of the curriculum (English being the hardest for him) up to the point where his teachers help him to get to university. Paco was a well-rounded character, also loving dancing, pop music and girls and finishing his school career as President of the Student Body. It was all there for us to discuss and draw modern parallels - immigration both legal and illegal, discrimination, the life of itinerant pickers, warmly packaged in delightfully humourous prose. The book won prizes for teenage literature, so in terms of simplicity of style and vocabulary was pitched at an ideal level for our Improvers group.
Next session the group is looking forward to having a new Group Leader. Alison Bertie will bring renewed vigour to the group, and is already writing lesson plans focused on improving our spoken and listening skills.