Spanish VH visits Woodburn

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On May 27th we made a half day excursion to Woodburn to learn more about this enclave of Hispanic Oregonians.  We first visited AIS (Academy of International Studies) where our students had the opportunity to meet and talk, in Spanish, with a group of Woodburn high school students.  Our hosts spoke openly about what it's like to attend a school with a demographic of 99.5% Hispanic, what languages they use in school and at home, family life, tastes in music, what teens do in Woodburn, where's the best Mexican food in Woodburn and what Catlin life is like.  I had the great pleasure of speaking with AIS counselor, Mario Garza.  From our conversation, I learned that there is a great number of tejanos or Texans of Mexican decent who came to settle in Woodburn...entire populations came and settled in the area, including his family, and I was not aware of this.  After this fabulous visit, we headed out to explore downtown Woodburn.  Our first stop was Luis's Taquería.  Since AIS students had highly recommended this establishment and I knew this was the taquería where then Senator Obama paid a visit while campaigning, we were eager to eat there ourselves.  WOW did we eat well!  All of us left very satisfied and thrilled that we have something in common with the President.  After we ate we split up into smaller groups to explore the very walkable downtown.  Students observed that almost all stores in the two block radius were geared toward a Hispanic clientele.  Almost all signs were in Spanish and/or bilingual Spanish and English.  All store clerks spoke Spanish.  Several storefronts had window displays with merchandise related to quinceañeras (when a girl celebrates her 15th birthday she becomes a quinceañera...while not celebrated in all Spanish speaking countries, this celebration is very popular in Mexico and is growing in popularity in our local community).  I don´t recall seeing any restaurants that that did not serve Mexican food.  Before boarding our bus I went to a grocery store to buy pastries for the ride home.  The students LOVED the cream filled churros and I thought the cuerno (horn shaped sweet bread) I ate was magnífico.  While I look forward to reading the student´s written reflections about the excursion, from what comments I heard that day it would seem that it was a very positive experience for all.  My favorite quote of the day was from Perla who said, ¨Me siento como si estuviera en México¨ or ¨I feel as if I were in Mexico¨.