Photo Courtesy of Markus Koljonen on Flickr

The Bilingual Advantage

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Konnikova on The New Yorker wrote a piece discussing learning two languages: Is Bilingualism Really An Advantage? Even though results are different from expected, the researcher, de Bruin, believes the true edge of bilingualism could go beyond task-switching and executive control.

So what are the advantages of being bilingual?

Here are some of them according to American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and, ahem, my personal experience.

1. Being able to learn new words easily.

Navigating through two languages has helped me learn more languages. A lot of languages are interconnected or heavily influenced by other languages: my understanding of English absolutely played a huge role in my French class, and my ability to read Chinese made my life a little easier while reading Japanese Kanjis.

Photo Courtesy of Presidio of Monterey on Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Presidio of Monterey on Flickr

2. Being able to use information in new ways.

Knowing two languages means you have access to two different cultures and people from different countries. Creativity requires a lot of brainpower, but since people who are bilingual do it every day linguistically, they’re slightly more familiar with the process.

Photo Courtesy of Temari 09 on Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Temari 09 on Flickr

3. Good listening skills

You learn a language by listening, and being bilingual means you have twice the practice other people did? (Disclaimer: Personally, I’m not very sure I’ve mastered this–still working on my listening skills.)

Photo Courtesy of nofrills on Flickr

Photo Courtesy of nofrills on Flickr

4. Connecting with others

I’ve gotten a decent amount of free gifts and good restaurant recommendations from trying to speak French while I was traveling in France. Need I say more?


I believe that knowing two languages fluently really expanded my vision and my experiences, not to mention it also made my life much easier. As a cultural center that celebrates multiculturalism, La Peña encourages children to learn more than one language in a fun setting. This is why it provides a Spanish-immersion World Music and Dance Camp this summer (Aug 3-7). I hope you would give your kids a chance to know another language, and of course, another culture!

Sign up here!



Here are the details for the camp:

August 3-7, 2015
A Spanish-immersion World Music and Dance Camp
9am – 3 pm
$275 including snacks, and excursions.

Mundo Musical Summer Camp is an exploration of dance and music traditions from around the world, with instruction in Spanish!

Students will experience Puerto Rican Bomba, Mexican Son Jarocho, Afro-Peruvian song and dance, and more!

Open to children ages 7 – 12. Some proficiency with Spanish will enhance your child’s learning and enjoyment.
Limited spaces available. Contact Hector Lugo to sign up.

Bomba drumming and songs

Through drumming, singing, dancing and storytelling, children will learn about Bomba, a 300-year-old Afro-Puerto Rican tradition, and its connections to other Caribbean musical forms. Activities are designed to help children develop musicianship, body coordination, expressiveness, and bilingual literacy skills in a fun and supportive group environment.

Son Jarocho – Zapateado, Small Percussion, Canto, Verse Writing, Fandango

Join La Peña Resident Artist María de la Rosa and members of her music collective, DíaPa’Son on a summer time trip through the Mexican Caribbean Gulf.

This class will concentrate on creating children’s choreography centered around the cajón. Children will learn how to play the cajón, the most important Afro-Peruvian percussion instrument, as well as some traditional songs, dances and footwork!

Lots of fun!

Sign up here!

Anastasia Yip
Development Intern

10 Former Chilean Soldiers Charged in Victor Jara Killing

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Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 3.22.55 PMDear La Peña Community,

There is news about the murder of Victor Jara:

“A judge has charged 10 former soldiers in the killing of internationally renowned Chilean folk singer and political activist Victor Jara, who was tortured and shot to death just days after the country’s 1973 coup.

The charges announced late Wednesday by Judge Miguel Vazquez include homicide and kidnapping in the slaying of Jara and former military police head Littre Quiroga Carvajal.”

To read the full article, click here.


Open Artist Call-Out!

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La Peña would like to invite you to exhibit your work in our “Conversaciónes Cósmicas” art exhibition opening, Thursday, September 11.

Concept: “Coversaciónes Cósmicas” centers around converging and diverging understandings of both the internal and external cosmos in relation to the global de-colonial diaspora. Within the exhibition La Peña will also be highlighting Chilean artists with the intention of commemorating the 1973 coup d’état of Allende’s government and honoring those lost during the terror that followed.  

How to submit: Please send a high-resolution JPEG of your work, its dimensions, medium, artist statement, artist bio, and which installation day you can install  to for consideration. Work will be accepted on a first come first serve basis. (La Peña reserves the right to not accept submissions if it does not fit with the overall vision of the exhibit.) 2D and 3D are eligible however, all must be mountable to a wall.

Deadline for submissions: August 11, 2015

Installation Dates:

Sunday, August 30th, 3pm-6:00pm

Monday, August 31st, 9am-6pm

Opening CelebrationThursday, September 11, 6:30pm-9:30pm

The opening will happen in conjunction with La Peña’s annual day of remembrance for those lost in the coup.

Please let all your all your friends know who would like to participate in showcasing their work at La Peña!

LP Board Meeting Minutes–June 29, 2015

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LP Board Meeting Minutes–June 29, 2015

Present: Aaron, Carmen, Ellen, Francine, Gino, Nancy, Paul, Sarah, Tania, Victor

Community: Carol, Karen and Bessie

1. Minutes from previous meeting were approved unanimously online. Nancy and Tania were welcomed to their first board meeting.

2. Public Comment: Karen and Bessie from the Chorus proposed a new working arrangement which was discussed. A decision is expected within the week.

3. Financial report: Carol went over the financial report. Ellen moved and Paul seconded the motion to approve the financial statements for fiscal year 2013-2014 ending August 31, 2014. All approved. Once taxes are filed, Café La Peña can be closed. Aaron will consult Kristen for details as to closing.

Aaron will prepare a draft budget to be sent out with a special budget meeting scheduled by July 15 for interested Board members. Carol will be available for financial workshop(s) to educate Board.

4. Report from ED (document previously sent by Aaron): Aaron reviewed the Director’s Report. He went over anniversary events and discussed committee and Board participation. He is working with Jocie to hire a new programmer.

5. Facilities: Aaron reported on facilities plans to paint back classroom and create a meeting and food prep space with an outdoor patio. The front office renovation and staff move is planned for July.

6. Programming: We discussed developing plans for September 11 along with defining other important dates as part of our legacy.

7. Solar La Peña: Aaron discussed progress on Solar LP. Ellen will work with Kristen to support the project.

8. General discussion and agreements: All board members will use emails for official business and to list on our website; a special meeting/training will be upcoming to deepen our understanding about budget; we discussed how to increase audience for events and using our website and social media; we discussed using google docs to share documents.


What’s going on at La Peña? Find out here!

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1.) Did you hear about phenomenal line-up on July 18th for Beyond Dreams?  This series celebrates the cultural richness and diversity that immigrants contribute to our communities through the performing arts, focusing on the musical genres of hip-hop and poetry.

First up: Rebel Diaz

Then, Jasiri X:

Also – Paul S. Flores

View the full line-up here. 

2) Did you bring your La Peña gear with you on vacation?  Take a picture and send it to us! (  Here, Paul Chin (far left), president of our board, is wearing a t-shirt from our 25th anniversary.

the fam6-10 copy










3.) A huge thank you goes out to Jack and Karen Madigan.  They donated this amazing painting for us to put up on our walls.  The painting represents the displacement of indigenous people.










4.) Did you hear? Juan Felipe Herrera, is now the Poet Laureate of the United States, selected by the Library of Congress.  He has spoken at La Peña many times! An achievement that should bring us all pride. Juan Felipe was there when the Chicano Movement was at its beginnings–He was there when the Chicano Art Movement was addressing the conditions in which we found ourselves 50 years ago. As a poet, he lent his voice to shaping and defining our past, present and future.


5.) Our piano has found a new home! Thanks for those who helped put the word out.  Here is the new owner, Toni with the piano that she named Lopeño!








Board Meeting Agenda for June 29, 2015

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Board Meeting Agenda June 29, 2015

Open Session (7:00pm – 8:30pm)

  • Finance Committee report
  • ED report
  • Anniversary Events Report
  • June Individual Contributions letter
  • Program Manager hire
  • New website homepage
  • Sandwich Boards: South Berkeley footprint
  • Renovations update
    • Back Classroom (name?), storage facilities
  • Sports at La Peña/ audio-visual hookup

Closed Session (8:30pm – 9:00pm)

La Peña will be a drop off for a School Supply Drive organized by Food Empowerment Project

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La Peña will be a drop off for a School Supply Drive organized by Food Empowerment Project!

Below are the details:

Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) is organizing a Bay Area school supply drive for the children of farm workers from Monday, July 13, through Monday, July 27.

The farm workers who pick our food are victims of an unjust system that benefits corporations over workers, profit over people, and greed over families. These workers strive to get by on very little income, and parents and grandparents often cannot afford to buy their children the school supplies they need.

While F.E.P. works in other ways to challenge this system, we want to do our best to give farm workers the support they deserve.

Below is a list of the school supplies that are needed:

Backpacks (in great demand)
Colored markers
Lined notebook paper
Pencils and pens
Pencil boxes or plastic zip bags that fit into 3-hole notebooks
Pencil sharpeners
Plain blank notebook paper with 3-holes to fit into notebooks
Plastic notebooks
Spiral notebooks
If possible, please buy non-toxic supplies*.

Drop-off locations are located throughout the Bay Area.

Donations will be given to the children of farm workers in the Watsonville/Salinas area (some of whom live in the labor camps), as we are working with the Center for Farmworker Families*, and some of the school supply donations will also be given to the Graton Day Labor Center* for the farm worker family members who frequent the Center looking for job opportunities.

Any school supplies that remain after these distributions will be taken to the impoverished villages of Jalisco’s high mountains for farm family children. The school supplies, in turn, will provide farm families with a strong foundation and incentive to remain in Mexico for their children’s education.

In 2011, we donated clothes and some school supplies. In 2013, we organized our first school supply drive in the Bay Area, and last year we organized a food supply drive in the Bay Area for the farm workers and their families as part of the farm worker appreciation day that we helped to coordinate in Salinas. All the recipients were so thankful for these donations.

Thank YOU for your support of families who work so hard helping to put the food on our tables.

Photos above are of our wonderful recipients from 2013.

*Please note, although Food Empowerment Project is referring to the work of another organization, we do not necessarily endorse the entire content of their website or mission.

BerkeleySchool+Supply+Drive flyer (2)-page-0

Our 40th Anniversary is here, and we have a few updates!

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Our month long 40th Anniversary celebration has kicked off, and we have so much to look forward to this month. A huge thank you goes out to everyone who has contributed to La Peña over the years – artists, activists, musicians, interns, volunteers, supporters, and so, SO MANY more who have helped us reach 40 years.  YOUour community, have kept us going strong through your passion for the arts and commitment to social change. We hope that you’ll join in celebrating with us.

This month, we celebrate 40 years, and kick it off this weekend with the following line-up:

Fri: Raizes Perú
Sat: 40th Anniversary Open House – Free Classes and Performances: Rockin’ Kid’s Sing Along, Beat the Blues, Discover the Guitar, Vocals for Kids
SatLive Art Legacy Party featuring: WORD UP (In the Lounge)
Sat: Steelo Entertainment and La Peña present: BEYOND DREAMS with Rupa and the April Fishes
Sun:40th Anniversary Open House – Free Classes and Performances: Bomba Y Plena, Son Jarocho,         Rumba
Sun: Meet and Greet with our new Executive Director, Aaron Lorenz (In the Lounge)
Sun: Zara’s Faith: Somebody Has Got to Stand Up

All throughout June: ¡Arte Adelante! 40th Anniversary Festival ART EXHIBITS

Below are 4 quick highlights that let you know what we’ve been up to and how we’ve been preparing for our 40th Anniversary.  There will be many more to come, be sure to check back!

1.  So many radio interviews! Aaron Lorenz goes on the air to talk about the 40th and La Peña’s 40th Anniversary.

Did you hear our new Executive Director’s interview with Nina Serrano of La Raza Chronicles on KPFA?  He is joined by Mariela Hererra, who is a musician/singer/songwriter. She has been involved closely with La Peña for years, has performed for our Amiguitos series, and recently taught a Spanish Immersion course for kids.  Listen to her perform two of her children’s songs during this radio segment.  

2. Upgrades to the Community Room and Theater 

Shout out to all of our hardworking volunteers who helped renovate our community room. You rock! Everyone involved in the project has been working around the clock to replace the floors, paint the walls, put up artwork, provide their expertise, and grace us with their wonderful presence.  If you’re interested in learning about volunteer opportunities, click here.

The process…..

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….and it’s done!



We also showed our theater some love.



3. Features in local papers.

In need of a good read?  Check out the article in the San Jose Mercury News: La Pena Cultural Center celebrates 40th anniversary.  Learn about our history and read up about our June programming!

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4. New sign out front

Did you see the new sign that we put up out front?  Follow us on Instagram for more gems like these!


Be sure to check back on our blog for more La Peña updates.

We have so many diverse events happening this June to celebrate this exciting time in La Peña’s history.  Please visit our calendar for the schedule, and to buy tickets. We’ll see you soon

¡Qué Viva La Peña!

Help Accent on Languages get a grant!

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logo_ACCENTAccent on Languages is applying for a $100,000 grant to offer more continuing education to bilingual people in our community to help them to become translators and interpreters.

Help them get to 240 signatures by June 19th! Please go this site and vote for them, and be sure to share the post on Facebook as well.

About Accent on Languages:

A creative approach to linguistic and cultural services.

Translation, interpreting, transcription, voice-over, and desktop publishing services in over 120 languages.

We are committed to assist you in all aspects of your needs for language services.

Our success is yours!

AGENDA – La Peña Board Meeting

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La Peña Board Meeting
Monday, June 1, 7-9pm at La Peña

7 – 7:05: Welcome new ED and Approve Agenda and Minutes
7:05 – 7:20: Public comment
7:20 – 7:45: Director’s Report and 40th Anniversary Update
7:45 – 8:00: Financial Report
8:00 – 8:15: Facility update
8:15 – 8:50: Closed Session
8:50 – 9pm: schedule next meeting