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New organization bridges cultures between UWRF, community

May 2, 2013

The Spanish Professions Association (SPA) is a new organization that has just completed its first year of existence at UW-River Falls.

Originally from Argentina, Assistant Professor of Spanish Juan Carlos Chaves is the faculty advisor for the six students who are involved with the SPA. Chaves said that the SPA is like an extracurricular activity of all the Spanish courses that he teaches. He said that the association got started because they wanted to do something outside of the classroom; they wanted to do something extracurricular. He and a group of students are “very qualified to speak the language got together and decided to be an association and invite speakers on campus,” Chaves said.

The purpose as well as the mission of the SPA is to serve as a cultural bridge between the students and the community. According to Chaves, the way that the SPA achieves this goal is by bringing speakers from different professional backgrounds to campus once a month. During these presentations, speakers share their daily professional lives in the workplace with the students as well as with the community.

Its seal, which is a black and red gear, represents the SPA. The black signifies authority and the red represents energy, power, strength and determination. This gear represents a symbol of constant movement. The cogs rotate which generates light to illuminate the paths of confidence, determination, growth, responsibility and success.

This year, the SPA had brought four speakers from different countries and cultural backgrounds on to the UWRF campus. The speakers were from Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Paraguay.

In addition to the array of speakers, Chaves mentioned that one of the unique things about the SPA is that all of the presentations are entirely in Spanish.
“It’s like an emergence in the language, its like sitting there and attending a conference 100 percent in Spanish,” Chaves said.

This is done as an opportunity for students who are majoring in Spanish to make professional connections with the presenters. Though ultimately, all presentations are delivered in Spanish in order for students to gain knowledge of what is out there in the real world.
“It went very, very well, more than what we expected. We got a line up of volunteer speakers that want to come and their daily experiences at work with the students and I think the students gained the knowledge of what’s going on outside of campus,” said Chaves about the first year of the SPA.

He also said that the groups of students involved with this association are very active and very enthusiastic with what they are doing. For next semester, the SPA hopes to bring in several more interesting speakers.

In addition, Chaves said that besides just being a cultural bridge between the community and the students, the association hopes to raise money. With this money, the members of the SPA will set up scholarships to give to students who will be majoring in Spanish.