OCCC is sponsoring its annual Spanish Immersion Weekend on March 29 through 31 to help students engage in authentic Hispanic culture just a few short miles west of Oklahoma City. Students are allowed to speak only Spanish for three days straight. This tradition began about 17 years ago on campus.
“The beauty of the weekend is the chance to be immersed, speak with natives, and learn their cultures,” said Dr. Ginnett Rollins, camp coordinator and professor of modern languages.
Students with any level of Spanish experience are welcome, and every participant signs a contract agreeing to speak Spanish for the entire weekend on the “honor system,” Rollins said.
This fun-filled weekend is in Hinton, at Red Rock Canyon camp. Rollins referred to the weekend as “pretending to study abroad.” Upon arrival, students must show their “fake” passports and tickets to be allowed into the camp.
They must go through customs, take a taxi to their residence for the weekend, which Rollins described as sitting in four chairs pretending to drive to each cabin. They will exchange money at the bank to be able to pay for camp meals. Students also are required to deal with a waiter at a restaurant, aka the camp cafeteria, and engage in “regato,” or bargaining, at a mock marketplace.
Other activities include taking nature walks, watching foreign films, telling stories, acting in plays, singing and dancing — all in Spanish.
Native speakers from about 10 separate Spanish-speaking countries also participate. There is about a three to one ratio of American students to native speakers, which is very helpful to the students when involved in everyday conversation, Rollins said.
“I think students truly enjoy it as well as teachers and volunteers,” said Juan Luna, a participant as a native speaker from Mexico City. “You have to work hard to get a good grade, so it is well worth it.”
Students earn one credit hour for participating. They may enroll either online or in person. The tuition cost is $95 with an additional $145 for two nights of lodging, meals, and activities. Participants must pay all fees by March 15.
There is one meeting prior to this exciting trip “abroad” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 28.
Rollins said she would be pleased to answer any additional questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.