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Café de Conversacion gatherings in Incline bring community together

Students and volunteers at a recent Café de Conversacion gathering.

Every Thursday night in Incline Village, an eclectic group composed of native-English-speaking volunteers from St. Patrick's Episcopal Church and teachers and students from Tahoe Family Solutions' English as a Second Language (ESL) program come together in the church library for a community gathering called Café de Conversacion.

The intention of the Café is to provide a safe and supportive environment for English conversation practice where food is shared and friendships are built.

English-learning participants from countries including Taiwan, Mexico, Guatemala and Ukraine are regulars at the Café and can be heard discussing topics ranging from their goals at work to their hopes for their families; from holiday customs in their native countries to the challenges and joys of living in the United States.

Having just completed the second six-week session at the no-cost, drop-in Café, the volunteers and learners have developed close bonds — a few tears have been shed and friendships have flourished.

“We’re sharing much more than vocabulary on these evenings together. We’re sharing our lives and our hopes for the future. At Café de Conversacion, we’re building friendships beyond words.” St. Patrick’s member Rev. Clare Novak

"We're sharing much more than vocabulary on these evenings together," said St. Patrick's member Rev. Clare Novak. "We're sharing our lives and our hopes for the future. At Café de Conversacion, we're building friendships beyond words."

In conjunction with the Café, many of the English learners also participate in the ESL classes held on Tuesday and Wednesday nights through Tahoe Family Solutions.

In these classes, adult community members are instructed in English grammar, vocabulary development, reading, writing and speaking.

Many of these same students then attend the Thursday night Café where the English fundamentals they have learned are put to real-world use.

Rainbow Cardy, a Taiwanese woman who participates in both learning opportunities says, "The English classes and Café de Conversacion help give me more courage to talk and to not be afraid. The courage is very important for learning English."

For community members interested in ESL classes, Tahoe Family Solutions is holding registration for its next session on Tuesday, Jan. 10, with the first class to be held on Jan. 17.

Call Amy at 775-298-0205 to sign up for the class. The next Café de Conversacion will start on Thursday, Jan. 19.

Volunteer speaking partners are always welcome, as are language learners who seek English conversation practice. Please call Rev. Clare Novak at 530-546-7824 for more information on Café de Conversacion.

This article was provided by Tahoe Family Solutions. Visit tahoefamily.org to learn more.