Café Olé: A chance for casual Spanish conversation 

A group of teaching assistants play cards with students while enjoying coffee and cookies. Café Olé offers students a chance to speak Spanish in a comfortable setting. (Margaret Latenser | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s note: In the original online and print article, we misspelled Jon Roacho’s name as “Roacha.” We have updated the article fixing this error and we apologize to Mr. Roacho and to our reader’s for any confusion this may have caused.

Laughter and music echo throughout the second floor of Eisenhower Hall every Wednesday afternoon. The sound of happy conversation comes from Café Olé, a Spanish social hour from 1-2 p.m. in the lounge. Coffee, cookies and board games create the perfect environment for informal Spanish conversation. 

The idea is to provide a space for students or community members interested in Spanish to speak in a casual setting, Andie Faber, coordinator of the Spanish program, said. 

There are usually games and coloring sheets, and on cultural holidays there are special games and crafts to celebrate. 

“Sometimes we will do specific activities, but most of the time it is very informal. … We encourage students and participants to come and go,” Faber said. “We purposely made it from 1-2 p.m. because classes switch. If people want to just drop in, have a cookie and say ‘hi,’ great. If they want to stay the whole hour, hang out and chat, great.”

Faber said the event is a great time to get to know people from all over campus. 

“[My favorite part is] getting to talk with people and have a moment in my day that is just hanging out, relaxing and being social while still promoting Spanish for our students,” Faber said. 

Jon Roacho, graduate student in modern languages, said the event allows students to speak in Spanish with no stress. 

“There is usually a question of the day … like today [Wednesday] is ‘what was your favorite moment of September?’” Roacho said. “And then we can just talk about that … have a conversation based on that, or about anything we want.”

Allisson Restrepo, graduate student in modern languages, said she enjoys having time to mingle and encourages her students to attend. 

“We like to come and see if our students come and chat with them, but also we use this as a chance to socialize amongst GTAs [graduate teaching assistants],” Restrepo said. “With busy days there’s not a lot of time to socialize. This gives us an excuse.”

After attending the event every Wednesday since freshman year, Ryan Pope, junior in biology, said he is a huge fan of Café Olé.

“This is a great event,” Pope said. “You can practice speaking and no one cares if you mess up. Also, you can get to know all the teachers and develop good relationships. That way when you have them in class you already know each other.”