Grade 8 students enrolled in advanced Spanish, French, Japanese and Mandarin language courses recently partook in several fun and educational outings to local restaurants. All four outings served up plenty of delicious food, stimulating conversation and authentic cultural atmosphere.
Students taking Spanish with instructors Julie Pinzás and Susan Moling visited Habana Cuba Restaurant. The menu included lightly buttered rice with or without beans, fried bananas, chicken, pork and vegetarian options. Moling noted that the advanced Spanish students had been immersing themselves in Cuban culture prior to the outing.
“I really enjoyed it and so did all of my friends,” recalled student Shaya Zarkesh. “The restaurant’s chandeliers and decorations made for a relaxing, peaceful atmosphere. The staff was very courteous and not at all disruptive, making the restaurant perfect for having a conversation with friends. As for the food itself: in short, it tasted outstanding. I ordered the chicken meal. Before I knew it, my plate was finished and I craved more, despite my full stomach! I would certainly recommend Habana Cuba Restaurant to anyone in San Jose looking for Cuban food.”
Classmate Millie Lin remembered that “a small crowd of hungry teenagers” piled onto the bus to go to the Cuban restaurant. “I was one of the people in that group. The restaurant gave off a rather warm, festive feeling to its diners. Its colorful walls were painted red, yellow, green and blue, and there was lively music playing in the background. I could imagine that I was really in Cuba, with all the colors and sounds around me,” she said.
Carol Parris, who is a French teacher as well as chair of K-8 modern and classical languages, reported that her students had a lovely luncheon at the Left Bank on Santana Row.
“They had a private room surrounded by French murals with cozy round tables dressed in white linen and French flag centerpieces,” she said. “The restaurant also encouraged me to bring my own decorations from the classes’ last celebration for Mardi Gras, where beads abounded and King Cake from New Orleans was devoured.”
She said the meal was delicious, with a choice of three French dishes, dessert and many baskets of French bread. “The students commented on the warm, friendly atmosphere at the restaurant. During the lunch, an awards celebration was held. The students had just learned how to use the superlative of adjectives. Their assessment was an opinion poll where they voted for their classmates in 12 categories, including best in French, best dancer, most generous, etc. Good spirit was shown by all as they applauded the winners in each category,” she said.
Meanwhile, students in Kumi Matsui’s Japanese 2M course headed to Tomi Sushi. “The staff of this restaurant spoke native Japanese and they served authentic Japanese dishes. The students had the opportunity to order dishes only in Japanese. The students benefitted from practicing Japanese outside the classroom while learning Japanese food culture. After lunch, we went to Hakone Gardens to experience a tea ceremony. This was a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn about Japanese culture,” recalled Matsui.
Rounding out the foreign language field trips, middle school Mandarin teacher Virginia Mau took her students to lunch at the Southland Flavor Cafe in Cupertino, followed by a scavenger hunt in which they were randomly divided into three groups. During the hunt, students had to speak entirely in Chinese, including asking for directions, if necessary. The goal was to discover where Mau was waiting for them.
“I personally have been taking students out on this type of trips for over 10 years, but this is the first time ever at Harker!” enthused Mau, who helped launch Harker’s middle school Mandarin program in 2011. “Ten students from my Mandarin 2M classes went on the trip. The kids had a great time, and were very happy and proud to use what they had learned!”