An Adventure Every Week
Even after four years of Saturdays at the Kenton Library, Patrick Caplis doesn't know what awaits him in the library's classroom, when he comes to facilitate that week's Intercambio. Intercambio, which means “exchange” in Spanish, is a language exchange and experience class that brings together a diverse group to practice Spanish and English. Their dedicated leader, Patrick, has helped them create a community within the Kenton library. Says Lanel, one of the Kenton library staff, “He runs the show!”
While Kenton's Intercambio has been going on for some time, the sessions really took off when Patrick took the helm four years ago. His role is to “include people and give everyone a chance to participate,” he says. “There's an element of stupidity and humility” when stumbling through language learning, he adds, “so it's my job to be supportive of that.” Intercambio emphasizes language exchange, with 45 minutes devoted to Spanish and 45 minutes devoted to English. While the structure may be set, content is not: participants have wide-ranging conversations on topics pertinent to their lives. For example, one man brought in some paintings he liked and discussed them in Spanish. Another person prepared for his American citizenship test by reviewing civics in English with his classmates.
Patrick says he encourages the class to bring their interests to the table to vary the discussion, but he also enjoys an occasional game of Scrabble or Bananagrams, all in the name of learning, of course! “The classes are full of serendipity,” he says. “And it's a wonderful, interesting group of people who come from all over the English and Latin world.”
Though he grew up in Detroit, Patrick moved to Portland in 1979 to attend the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM). A naturopathic doctor for years, he no longer practices but now teaches piano. He says he still enjoys facilitating Intercambio sessions, even after all this time. “We have a very simpático or warm-hearted group,” he says. “It's an adventure every week.”
A Few Facts About Patrick