Cristi Rabaza

Catalan

Catalan Group at Museo de Dali

When I became interested in learning a third language, I was immediately drawn to my university’s Catalan program for its small size and strong sense of community. Learning Catalan, a language native to a separatist, autonomous region of northeastern Spain and its Mediterranean islands, also presented me the opportunity to immerse myself in my ancestors’ culture, as my family came predominantly from the Catalan region before spreading to other parts of Spain and eventually to Cuba. Even more enriching than the language courses was the Catalan House, a student organization run by the language students and overseen by our professor. Not only did we meet every Friday for “Cafe Catalan,” the club’s coffee-and-conversation session, but we also celebrated Catalan culture by planning a wide range of activities every month. These included concerts by touring Catalan musicians followed by panels to discuss music in Catalan culture and politics; Catalan cooking nights at our professor’s house; a visit to St. Petersburg’s Salvador Dalí Museum; and a 3-day Catalan literature Colloquium hosted by Pepa Úbeda, a prominent Catalan poet, artist and radio journalist. We even brought the very first collection of Catalan books to the UF Library of European studies and pushed for more funding when Spanish department administrators paid little attention to our small program. In a university with more than 50,000 students, it was meaningful to make a mark as part of a small program filled with students who genuinely cared about Catalan. I have formed my closest friendships in college through my involvement in the Catalan House and have developed a true sense of belonging among a massive student body.