CHAPEL HILL, NC—According to classmates in Señora Martín’s Spanish 101 class, freshman history major Henry (Jorge) Lavaran’s favorite activities are skating, painting and eating French fries, all words so far assigned on his weekly vocabulary lists.
Lavaran, who is an athlete on UNC’s Varsity Fencing team and a member of the Carolina Microfinance Initiative, has partnered with his classmates over the past semester to practice conversational skills, discussing things that “enhanced both [their] language skills and [their] understandings of each other.”
“I had no idea Henry enjoyed skating on streets so much,” said classmate Peter (Paco) Dixon. “I guess that’s what’s so great about intimate classes like this one. You really get to know people.”
“If he’s ever down, I know Henry just needs a big bowl of French Fries and an easel. I can be there for him now,” he added.
“I found out Margarít really doesn’t like doing her homework,” said Lavaran, speaking of freshman economics major Margaret Burris, who founded a nonprofit in high school that works to reduce food waste. “She also doesn’t like getting up early or sweeping the floor.”
“It’s kind of crazy how much we have in common,” he added.
Since the beginning of the semester, Lavaran has also associated closely with the male peers in his class who expressed their interests in playing basketball and eating hamburgers.
“I’m planning on asking the gang out to Al’s Burgers some time,” said Lavaran. “I know Santiago would be down. He likes hamburgers, wants to eat burgers and hates not eating hamburgers. The man just loves burgers.”
Surprisingly, despite their vastly different senses of humor, all of Lavaran’s friends in the class agree that they’ve found common ground in their second language.
“There’s this word in Spanish, pusé, that’s pronounced poos-ay,” biology major and 2012 Origami Crane-making AA Champion Greg (Gabriel) Dwyer explained. “Whenever Señora Martín says it, Jorge and I just look at each other and smile. He gets me, you know?”
Soon, Lavaran will have to decide whether to continue his academic exploration of the Spanish language or move on to another pursuit. When asked by his Spanish-speaking professor if he has any interest in the Spanish Literature and Culture major at UNC, Lavaran nodded.
“Puedo ir al baño,” he said, smiling. “Puedo ir al baño.”