Ms. Rekow’s 10th grade Heritage class has been experiencing Colombian culture through film and food. They began their new project in class with the movie Entre nos, which translates to “Between Us.” This Spanish-language film centers around a Colombian emigrant and her two children in New York. After watching the film, the class went to a local Colombian restaurant that is run by a Colombian family, Ajiaco Colombian Bistro. “The students had a wonderful time,” said Ms. Rekow. While they ate, they spoke to each other in Spanish and enjoyed the authentic Colombian food. They were able to try dishes such as Bandeja Paisa, plátanos con bocadillo y queso, arepas, and empanadas. For many of them, this was their first opportunity to try these dishes. Ms. Rekow believes it’s important for her students to engage in these experiences. “Eating in typical Latino restaurants gives students the opportunity to hold conversations and experience new gastronomy in authentic settings,” she said.
After trying the delicious empanadas at Ajiaco Colombian Bistro, her class made their own empanadas, Colombian-style. “This was a tremendous collaborative effort, which involved parents, grandparents, and students,” explained Ms. Rekow. Each student brought a few ingredients either pre-cooked or raw to make the empanadas. During the project, the parents and grandparents were completely hands on, helping the students with challenging steps, monitoring their child/grandchild's progress while cooking, giving advice, and enjoying the sense of community that emerged from this activity. “The students learned a lot about the process of making empanadas, and about themselves as they volunteered or were directed to perform various tasks,” Ms. Rekow divulged. She added, “It takes a village to make empanadas, and these were the result of a fabulous, caring team effort.”
Luke ‘22 shared his thoughts on the empanada-making activity. “I thought it was a good experience for some of us to try new things. I learned that I should step out of my comfort zone more often, and try as hard as I can to continue to do that. It was nice to have our parents and grandparents around as well, to reinforce the comfortable aspect of trying new things.”
“Making empanadas was a great way to help us better understand the culture that we as a class have been learning about,” said Paolo ‘22. He added, “Personally, I learned a lot about not only how to make empanadas, but also the work put into the preparation and process of making them. Overall the experience was very fascinating, and help me better understand the culture we have been learning about.”
Ms. Rekow thanks the parents and relatives who helped prepare the empanadas in class, as well as all the parents who sent ingredients and utensils. She also wants to thank the mother of Hawthorn ‘22 for taking photos, and the mother and grandmother of Ane ‘22 for “their invaluable help and guidance throughout the process.”