Open Minds, Full Stomachs: Exploring Spanish and Arabic Culture Through Traditional Cuisine

June 27, 2017

Students dove into their first full day of the Language Pledge with open minds, enthusiasm, and a busy schedule! Students in both the Arabic and Spanish academies had a day full of classroom time, cultural exploration courses, and their choice of activities like music, dance, tennis, calligraphy, bingo, sidewalk chalk, Zumba, basketball, soccer, cloud watching and a nature walk - phew! That’s a lot of activities. Thank goodness a brief rainstorm during the activity hour gave way to sunny skies so our students could head outside.

In this blog, I would like to highlight two Cultural Exploration (CE) sessions that I had had opportunity to observe and participate in today. Both the Arabic and Spanish Academies have Culinary CE’s where students can prepare (and eat!) traditional dishes, all while practicing their language skills.

The Spanish CE’s dish of the day was a Paella recipe, led by their “profesora” Liliana. Students split up into three teams to cook three different paellas which were either mild, spicy, or very spicy. Liliana gave Spanish, verbal instructions and measurements of each ingredient to the students and laid out a table full of kitchenware, pots, pans, and ingredients all labeled with Spanish vocabulary. It was then up to the students to remember the recipe and communicate with each other to cook their paellas. It was definitely a test of team communication and language skills, but the students did a fantastic job. It was great to see students teaching each other vocabulary and dividing responsibilities all while smiling and laughing! To get an inside look at this activity, check out THIS VIDEO

The Arabic CE also had a culinary adventure which included a trip to the an international market. Students boarded the bus and headed to Winooski where they visited the market, which was owned by Arabic speakers. The students’ mission: find ingredients for a traditional lentil soup and communicate with the owners in Arabic! While waiting for the bus, we sat through a thunderstorm, but this gave Tyler (Arabic teacher) the chance to teach the students the words for thunder and lightening. Once at the market, the students successfully checked off every item on their shopping list and held worthwhile conversations with each other, and the owners. It was another test of group communication, but the students had fun searching for items and calling out joyfully if they found a missing ingredient. Cooking their meal will be saved for another day, but until then, watch THIS VIDEO for a recap of their adventure to the market. 


That’s all for Day Two! Please look through our photos above, featuring the two cultural explorations PLUS many more shots from classrooms, free time, and activities.


Check back tomorrow for more photos and stories from SMC.