University Hill Students Add Salsa to the Mix With Help From UBC Students

University Hill Secondary students spiced up their afternoon with salsa dancing lessons taught by UBC students. The school's common room turned into a dance studio, complete with latin tunes on the speakers and plenty of smooth moves. 

"There's a healthy mix of girls and guys," grinned Univserity Hill teacher Faye Tassioulas, eying the blushing crowd of Grade 11 and 12 students. 

But the shyness quickly disappeared, as the students 'cha-cha'd' and swung their partners to music DJ'd by UBC's Dr. Samuel Navarro.

A professor and academic advisor in the Department of French, Italian and Hispanic Studies (FIHS), Navarro says this event is the result of UBC and University Hill's desire to work together on programs. 

"It's funny how we share a campus but this is the first time our schools have collaborated on a cultural level," says Navarro. "We're bringing UBC FIHS students together with high-school students to help educate and immerse them in Spanish studies."

Tassioulas says that the program, which started in September 2013, allows University Hill students to practice their Spanish with UBC students who are also learning the language. 

But the lesson plan differed on this particular occasion.  

Students were first separated into male and female groups to learn some dance steps. UBC student Javier Alvarez roused the boys with his fiery moves and infectious smile. After the practice session, the girls and guys were lined up and paired off to show off their moves. 

"The school kids are so energetic and the school has been so welcoming," says Navarro. He went on to say that the program has proven to be popular with his own students, 12 of whom are currently involved. 

Between bouts of fevered dancing, students had to open the windows and sip juice to keep cool. The group also paused to watch a pair of students play guitar. 

This isn't the first event put on by Tassioulas and Navarro. Last month, the students were treated to a movie night. Plans are now underway for another party, possibly with a piñata. 

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