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6 ways to get connected with the Latino community in Grand Rapids

Live wholeheartedly. Explore your new city. Practice Spanish outside the classroom.


  •   Author: Michal Rubingh
  •   Published: March 16, 2020
  •   Author: Michal Rubingh
  •   Published: March 16, 2020

Grand Rapids is an ideal city for learning Spanish—both as a student and as a community member. The Latino community makes up about 16 percent of the city’s population, and there are countless opportunities for you to get connected.

Here are some practical ways to form relationships with your Spanish-speaking neighbors in Grand Rapids:

  1. Service-learning. Your Spanish classes will introduce you to organizations that are looking for volunteers. You’ll get to practice your Spanish with native speakers and develop relationships along the way.
  2. Internships. Calvin is connected with a number of Latino organizations that routinely offer Calvin students internships. You’ll learn about the kinds of careers you can pursue with a Spanish degree and meet leaders who are willing to guide you.
  3. Church partnerships. In your Spanish classes, you’ll connect with local churches that offer bilingual or Spanish services. You might be invited to stay for lunch and get to know people—one of these churches could even become your church home!
  4. Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival. The GRLAFF is a rich display of art and culture that draws Calvin students every year. Attending the festival is a great way to learn about Latin American cultures from films by Latin American directors.
  5. Hispanic and Mexican Festivals. Grand Rapids is a hub for all kinds of festivals—and the Hispanic and Mexican Festivals are two that Calvin Spanish students should mark on their calendars! You’ll experience the hospitality of the Latino community through food, dance, and live music.
  6. Activism. Calvin students can participate in organizations like Movimiento Cosecha that advocate for immigrant rights and protection. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to walk alongside your Latino neighbors and learn about their life experiences.
  •   Author: Michal Rubingh
  •   Published: March 16, 2020

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