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Participants practice their language skills at a recent Conversation Club/Club de Conversación.

INDEPENDENCE — Everyone is welcome to the Conversation Club/Club de Conversación, which meets once a month at the Independence Public Library.

It’s based on a program that took place in Independence about 10 years ago.

“The original program was modeled on one done by a library in Louisiana,” said Robin Puccetti, Independence library director. “They presented at a conference, and it seemed like it would be a good match for our community. We ran the program for a number of years, with help from a Chemeketa (Community College) staff member who worked with their literacy program and knew a lot of people that were interested in participating.”

Ramon Martinez, Independence community engagement manager, said Puccetti still had a lot of the materials from last time. Those include ice-breaker type activities, he said.

“It’s fun being able to have this gathering, where folks want to work on their Spanish or English,” Martinez said. “What’s greater is that this brings the community together. It brings you together with someone you don’t meet during your day-to-day basis.”

The new group has met three times so far. The first 30 minutes is in Spanish, and the second 30 minutes is in English.

“It creates a sharing environment where everyone serves as a teacher, and everyone is a student,” Puccetti said. “It is an informal and safe environment where we can learn together.”

There are activities and games, as well as dictionaries and sheets with common phrases.

“We’ve had three gatherings so far,” Martinez said. “And all the gatherings have been filled with folks who are very engaged.”

The program is for people at all levels of either language.

“Participants come at all levels, from those with no language skills, to others who just want to polish their grammar and pronunciation,” Puccetti said. “Everyone is welcome.”

It’s been a team effort to put it on, Martinez said.

“The library is not only providing us a space, (but there is) someone dedicated to take care of children if any parents need that assistance,” he said. “(They) also provide snacks and beverages — coffee, tea, cookies, munchies. They’ve been awesome to support the effort.”

Martinez has attended a similar group that meets in Corvallis.

“There’s a really active group that meets in Portland,” he said. “It’s great being able to have something out here, and little by little, folks are finding out about it. I encourage them to come on by.”

Martinez said there are a lot of positives to learning a new language.

“I just think the whole intent of folks being able to work on a second language in general, it’s really fun,” Martinez said. “It really expands their network. (They are) able to share ideas and connect with others and talk about items that are important to them, and just really being able to communicate with your fellow community member.”

Join the conversation

Conversation Club/Club de Conversación meets once a month at the Independence Public Library, 175 Monmouth St., Independence.

The next meeting is at 7 p.m. on May 7

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