First-year Bilge Bengisu Akyol started the Spanish Table this semester using her own resources—giving students, whether fluent in Spanish or not, the opportunity to gather each Wednesday and connect with each other over Turkish tea.
Akyol was inspired by her Spanish class that she began taking in Fall 2022 and the home that Spanish Instructor Mariam Manzur-Leiva created in the classroom to start the table.
“I danced with my professor, ate Argentinian food with my classmates and got to speak to my friends in their mother tongue,” Akyol said. “I fell in love with Latin American culture as it was so different from but so close to my own Turkish culture.”
Akyol explained that by being in Florida, one of the biggest influences on her is the Hispanic community and culture. She said that she wants to continue to bring cultural events to New College, even if not through the Spanish Table—especially since she plans to travel around South America this summer.
“I will get to share the culture as someone who has experienced it first hand,” Akyol said.
Any New College student is welcome to the table, even if they don’t speak the language. For Akyol, the Spanish Table is an opportunity to listen to her friend’s generational stories in the language that is closest to them. She claims the table has also improved her Spanish vastly, giving her a chance to use and remember the things she learns in class.
“This table will teach you the essential skill for any language learning: expressing yourself,” Akyol continued. “To speak a language, you don’t need to be correct, you just need to be creative and use the things you have.”
The Spanish Table is currently self-funded, so everyone is welcome to bring any food they’d like to share if they choose to attend.