Friday con amigos

May 3, 2010 — by Brian Kim
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Senior Brian Kim

The most fortunate students walk graduation, not with a fistful of tassels hanging from their caps or their names printed almost too many times to count throughout the ceremony program, but with the knowledge that they will take with them something unique from their high school experience that others would have been just as privileged to have come across. Some are lucky enough to impart with the wisdom of a teacher, while others are blessed to have made a close friend. And then there are students like me, who will be fortunate to graduate with both.

For much of my senior year, Fridays have been home to a tradition known as Café Social. A group of us, including seniors Varun Parmar and Tiffany Mo, have gone with Spanish teacher Arnaldo Rodriguex, or as most know him, Señor, to Peet’s on Saratoga-Sunnyvale and converse in Spanish over coffee. Now, spending a Friday afternoon speaking Spanish outside of the classroom might not sound like your cup of tea, but Café is not at all what many would imagine.

Because conversation isn’t limited to “Stacy camina en el parque,” or what other mundane phrases our workbooks have us reciting, we discuss from the latest movies to politics, from college decisions to how to ask your date to prom. It’s a lighthearted Spanish practice, and much of it is because of the relationships we’ve built with our teacher, a man who has been helping students here for more than 30 years.

We often talk about the disadvantages of the “periodo block” and how many Spanish students won’t receive the practice to improve their communication because they don’t speak in class every day. While at first I struggled with the intimidation factor of using improper grammar and stumbling over my words, I cannot recall a time when Señor broke away from conversation and jumped into a verbose lecture about “subjunctivo formula uno, dos, y tres.” Although I still occasionally find myself stuck on a thought or unable to express myself, we always carry on as if I didn’t just confuse the words for “to make a mistake” (errar) and “to put horseshoes on” (herrar).

I’ll be honest, and certainly not modest, when I say that I am no better than my Spanish 5 AP peers at speaking the language. But as for our Friday after school meet-ups, I know I’m a lot more confident in my conversation skills than I would have been without Café Social.

I know, the concept of a student-teacher friendship may sound questionable. And with regards to concerns by the administration that may lead to cutting off Facebook communication between students and faculty, they would be wrong in doing so. I noticed that my classmates often overlook the opportunity to witness Señor’s genuine personality—the person beyond simply the teaching figure: a friend. For those who dare take the step to know their teachers, if you learn from them as mentors, and accept them as friends, I can assure that you’ll be as lucky as I am.

So while we embark on the last weeks of the school year—the last Friday’s, nonetheless—we invite you to join us after school, to meet us outside of room 601 for an afternoon of coffee and tea, plenty of laughs and good company.

As I like to think of it, “Thank goodness, it’s Friday, pues vamos a Café!”

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