Fanny Chapman doesn’t just serve up Mexican flavours at the Kal Lake Food concession at Kal Beach, she also teaches Spanish. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Fanny Chapman doesn’t just serve up Mexican flavours at the Kal Lake Food concession at Kal Beach, she also teaches Spanish. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Vernonites asked to share funniest Spanish translation stories

Mexicans living in town holding a contest to offer free Spanish classes

Anyone who has tried their tongue at a foreign language likely has a funny story about getting lost in translation.

Now, a group living in the Okanagan want to hear about it.

Mexicanos en el Okanagan is looking for 20 enthusiastic neighbours living in Vernon and Coldstream, who would like to learn essential Spanish travel phrases for free.

Potential students would have to share their funniest story related to a language barrier when they visited a Spanish-speaking country. They will have a week to post their story at the Facebook group IloveSpanish Vernon: and the teachers will select the funniest story.

There will be two 20-minute classes per week, for a total of eight classes, starting the second week of July until the end of July. The students who attend all of their classes will receive a symbolic graduation certificate which will be given during a graduation event where they will practice speaking Spanish with Spanish speaking members of our community, enjoy delicious Mexican tacos, pastries and live Mexican music.

Aida Sanchez and Fanny Chapman, administrators of Mexicanos en el Okanagan Facebook page, say it is important is to practice and learn Spanish for our neighbours who own property and/or travel a lot to Spanish-speaking countries.

“It is a cheerful way to getting calmly back to normal gathering with our neighbours, as well as, promoting diversity and inclusion in our neighbourhoods. It is a lovely combo!”

It is also a chance to make those Mexicans living or working in the Okanagan feel welcome, and at home.

“The City of Vernon is receiving more Spanish speakers every year and there are more coming because they are attracted to the beauty and warm weather of the Okanagan, Okanagan College and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot,” Chapman said. “Let’s make them feel welcome and share their language with our neighbours.”

One neighbour says “hi” or “hola” every time she meets an agricultural worker because she understands the struggle to be in a different country with a different language. The agricultural workers, even if they are here temporarily, like it when local people greet them. They want to feel part of our community too.

The IloveSpanish Vernon project wants to address the language barriers and be the bridge between two different worlds which can help each other as neighbours and find more things in common.

The IloveSpanish Vernon project is in thanks to the Neighbourhood Small Grants Program, funded by the Community Foundation North Okanagan and the Vancouver Foundation. Special thanks to the regional advisory committee and Kim English, regional coordinator, for their support.

Mexicanos en el Okanagan is the Mexican community and the first media in Spanish in the Okanagan. It is a Facebook group which has almost 2,000 followers from the Okanagan, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, and Mexico. The purpose of the group is to create a virtual safe space where people can feel confident because they can read news, get the essential and trustful information that they need in their own language, provided by people who understand their needs and have the same cultural background.


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