Category : SpeakSpanishTO.Me


¡Sí! by The Torontonian
¡Sí! a photo by Mauricio Alas.

For 5 years, I have been running Toronto’s largest and longest running Spanish Speaking Group: Speak Spanish To Me. It has been a great adventure and I have meet literally thousands of people as they come and go on their journey to expand their horizons and learn a new language. A wonderful and romantic language, if I may add. 😛

Always in a friendly and relaxed environment, the group has grown for a few members to over 1300+! I cannot deny that I am proud to run and host such a successful endeavour. And to help socialize and mingle with like minded individuals.

I can also say I have meet a lot of kind and wonderful people. A few of who I can now be lucky to call friends.

Also, we have had many, many silly situations where we have, in a moment of comradeship teased the heck out of each other. Like this moment for example, Roger, one our regular members decides to show us the true ‘proper’ way to advertise our group to the masses. Ha.

Thanks Roger.

This shot was taken with a D700 with a 50mm lenses. I am sure pretty high ISO. 😛

The Coca Cola Case: When Goliath Is Anxious

At the beginning of 2010, an extraordinary documentary caught my attention. In Crude, a group of activists campaign and sue Texaco Oil (now Chevron) who during the course of three decades literally laid waste through hundreds of Ecuadorian villages, leaving a legacy of contamination, countless cancer cases and ultimately death. The movie is a ground-level view of one of the most extraordinary legal dramas of our time, one which could set a precedent of how multi-national business is conducted. 

Because of this, a movie event was scheduled through my Spanish Peer Speaking Group in order to bring further attention to as many people as I could. Since then, another documentary has also caught my attention, one which people must also be made aware of. In the Coca-Cola Case, a group of lawyers try to bring attention and an end to the myriad of human right violations from an even more unlikely culprit.

The Coca-Cola company (Inc. 1888) is a North American media darling and is currently the brand most recognized in the entire world. A friendly, bright & perennial brand, normally associated with sharing a good time with good friends. They have spend hundreds of millions of dollars to achieve this very goal. So very far removed from the reality of this media empire’s hundreds of alleged kidnappings, torture and murder of union leaders who tried to improve working conditions in Colombia, Guatemala and Turkey. Yet in fact, the non-profit network showcasing this very film, Cinema Politica received a letter from Coca Cola lawyers on Jan. 11th implying the showing of this documentary to be illegal! Come now, you just know, when Goliath is this anxious, it’s because he knows David’s is packing heat.

Why would they allow this?If people are dying, why would they look the other way? The answer is terribly simple. It’s greed. Horrible, disgusting, all-encompasing greed. For example, the documentary interviews a number of workers, some of whom earn $15 for 15 hours of physically demanding labour, while in comparison, the  top brass of Coca Cola in Atlanta gets paid almost $5,000 AN HOUR and that’s far from the the worst this film offers as proof. The actual focus is that in order to keep wages low, Coca Cola has gone as far as to use paramilitary forces to systematically murder anyone who wants to change the status quo. So far at least 9 men, all union leaders and all Coca Cola workers, have been killed while the company looks the other way, washes their hands and claims no liability. 

Again, to help out, another movie event was scheduled by Speak Spanish To Me. With 1200+ members, just passing the word via email is a step in the right direction. With a bit of luck, the word got passed to two movie groups in Toronto and we all went to see the movie last night. The auditorium was packed and as expected the documentary showed the outright greed of multi-nationals who will throw as many wrenches into the legal system as necessary to slow down any justice to the men who have been murdered in cold blood. Going on for five years now, the case is just starting to get closer to a resolution, however if you don`t want to wait, we as consumers can and must speak in the one and best way they understand, through their money coffers!

In the end, our collaboration was to get educated and if I say so myself, monetarily speaking, the group’s funds we contributed paid half their rental expenses! But on a serious note, I highly recommend everyone to make the time to see this documentary and for us and most people who saw the movie last night, I think we are all switching refreshment brands… water it`s starting to look particularly healthy. And that’s the real thing.     

Adventuras De Un Organizador (Part IV)

As some of you may already know, I run two social groups in Toronto with a combined membership of 1230+ members and hosted a total 133 events, not too shabby for a hobby. However I have been thinking of going back to the original reason why I joined To learn Spanish.

You see, I first joined meetup a few years ago due to my slowly disappearing Spanish skills. I had moved to Canada 15 years before and was loosing it. Loosing sucha beautiful language is like loosing a part of your past, a part of your being. As I had no one to practice with, I decided to google a way to do so in Toronto.

To make a long story short, I found myself at the front door of The Toronto Spanish Language Meetup Group–or something named like that– about three years ago. Soon, I was helping run it although in the end I simply did not have the time, so I relinquished control to someone named John and that was that.

Fast forward two years. The group still existed however now in a moribund shadow of its former self. Even though it was one of the larger groups (850+ members) in Toronto, the number of events had crawled to about one every seven months. Can you imagine that? Yeah… I know, party time!

The organizer at the time, the one who is supposed to post and host events was MIA for months. Apparently, saving the whales or whatever may entail a seven month sabbatical. So after finding his email address, I offered to take it over. He refused. Sadly the reason was not very clear to me, something to to with the previous organizer not wanting for him to give up his organizer responsibilities. Okay. So two weeks later, he gave up the position on his own. Go figure.

I immediately jumped at the chance. Annexed, revamped it and decided to make it not only a tool for me to learn but to anyone and everyone else. It’s all about the good Karma, right? I was a bit worried the group was beyond repair, but there is nothing that can be achieved without some elbow grease. Thus so far, it seems to be working, my first event had 27 members show up! Second? 38! Third? 44!

What is it that we do, you ask? Primarily we chat. Somewhat anticlimactic since there is only one rule in the group: You can and must only communicate in Spanish. But our repertoire of types of events is growing, watching some Spanish movies and some dancing. Indeed it may seem daunting to those who are learning the language and are on their way in. However I have found one the best ways to learn any language is to simply immerse in such environment where you are forced to use it as often as possible. Whether you like it or not! Call it conversational sink or swim or the Spanish mother of invention or my personal favourite: Linguistic Darwinism. I baptize thy and copyright thy too.

If you would like to learn and more importantly practice your Spanish then come out. Not only you practice another language, meet new friends. Events are held at least on a bi-weekly basis if not weekly. You cannot loose! To start, click here: Toronto’s Spanish Group.

A hablar Español se a dicho!