Hi, I am Cristian Pedraza, co-founder and now director of Spanglish Universal, a Spanish/English language school and language/culture exchange programme that runs online and physically in London and Bogota.
I love afternoon bike rides even though riding a bicycle in London can be frightening. I don’t like fully cooked eggs, rather soft yolks on bread… That’s Life! I also like languages, films, dancing and sports.
With Spanglish, people can learn a new language online and then take part in our social and cultural events programme, which sets us apart from the typical language school and traditional meetups!
This enables Spanglish learners not only to practice their language skills but make new friends in a warm and friendly environment. Our variety of events are themed and currently running both online and in outdoor spaces/at venues (always following Covid guidelines in place at any particular point in time).
As lockdown has eased and final restrictions have been lifted, we will be ramping up our ‘in person’ events programme - offering those who are new to the city, those who have been isolated during the pandemic, or those who are simply dying to get out and connect with new people a chance to join our gatherings and practice a new language. At all times, we will be following any Covid safety guidelines advised as we want everybody to have safe fun!
How Spanglish was born
Let’s have a drink and talk in Spanish and English. Yes! This was how Spanglish started - this and an ambition to change perceptions of Colombia and Latin America's 'narco' reputation.
Ingrith Pena (my sister) started Spanglish in early 2013 after a few years of living in London. Then, my handsome nephew was born early 2014 and she had to stop nights out. I came to London early 2014 and while learning a new language often feels like a tongue twister, 'language' was only part of the puzzle - I had many expectations of meeting new people and mixing with different cultures.
Since Spanglish's formation eight years ago, we have organised/hosted more than 400 social events to promote social life, friendships and language learning. Our gatherings include but are not limited to Spanish Conversational Club, Dinners Out, Language Exchange, Film Club, Quizzes, Picnics, Dance Parties, Walks, Theatre, Cinema, and more.
In February 2020, I took over the full management and ownership of Spanglish. Soon after, I faced one of my biggest challenges, which was when Spanglish had to stop physical social events in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I managed to start three online events which were Online Conversational Club, Online Language Exchange and Online Film Club. Each of these had its own particular advantages, for example, the Online Language Exchange allowed us to connect people from Colombia, the UK and from elsewhere around the world. By taking our events online, Spanglish was able to keep a community of Spanish and English language lovers connected - at a particularly difficult time for all of us.
Why is Spanglish important?
WE ARE NOT ALONE, no one should be. Being or planning to go to a new country for the first time for travelling or living and not being able to communicate can be both daunting and disappointing. I agree with Mandela when he said "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart."
For many who come to a country alone, socialising can also initially be hard - particularly given the lockdowns we have all experienced as a result of the pandemic, which have been isolating and lonely for many too. By being part of our community, this barrier is removed though as our events provide an opportunity to socialise, make friends, and build connections in a warm and safe environment. At Spanglish, we want you to know you are not alone - there are millions like you.
I’m working hard daily to build Spanglish, a community which creates and shares ideas, journeys, friendships and contacts, dreams and social interaction - all of which serves to demonstrate the beauty and magnificence of our cultures and languages.
Now, that we can see a light at the end of the tunnel and are beginning to meet again in person, I have a huge responsibility to bring the Spanish and English language communities back together again.
I am convinced than when communities are connected (a challenging task with social distancing) they can built a better world in which to live.
My plan now is to formalise Spanglish as a language school and organisation offering cultural language events.
Where you come in
I can't achieve my vision for Spanglish as quickly as I would like to alone though. This is why I am hoping some generous donors will want to support me and my plans to create a community where friendships are born through language and culture learning and exchange.
When you contribute you will help to construct the basis of a beautiful language community that allows hundreds of people to learn a new language and create new friends who support and help each other.
Where your money will go
To date we have been running our activities via Meetup.com but to truly establish ourselves and evolve, we need money for the following:
- Website: £800
- Data Protection subscription: £80 (for two years)
- A trade mark registration: £170
- Spanish Language learning video production: £550.
A website will allow us to have a digital space where the Spanglish community can see our events programme and book places at events, access language learning materials, and interact with other language learners. It will also enable us here at Spanglish to form more of a direct relationship with members of our community.
There are various legal procedures we'll need to follow too so some of the money we raise will be invested in this area, e.g.: having in place the necessary mechanisms to ensure we protect the personal information of our community members properly ('Data Protection') and having a proper trademark in order to trade.
If this campaign goes really well, we will spend additional money on the production of Spanish Language video content.
If things go really really well, any extra funds will go towards the production of an English Language learning video course too! This will be delivered for free to children at risk in poor areas of Colombia.
You can also see this information on the right hand side of this crowdfunding page:
£10 - Get a digital "thank you" card
£25 - A free ticket to one of our Spanglish events + a thanks on Spanglish Social Media, as well as this crowdfunding campaign website + a digital "thank you" card
£50 - All the above + a physical "thank you" card sent to you + a beautiful bracelet from my country Colombia
£100 - All the above + entrance to the Spanglish Launch Ceremony (London) in October 2021 (RRP £25).
Unable to donate but still want to help me?
I understand that sometimes monetary donations are not part of everyone’s way of helping for different reasons but you can still help without donating! Just by spreading the word about what we are trying to achieve with anybody you think might be interested, you will be helping me.
First of all, you can start by simply sharing this campaign with your contacts through your own social media (Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Space,YouTube, Yahoo, Google, Badoo, Vimeo, Wordpress etc… :D just a few for you to choose from!). It’s always good if you mention why you want to support the Spanglish project, I know someone in your contact list will be interested!
Please get in touch if you want to help me even more in other ways, I appreciate your support. #anyhandhelps.
By supporting me you will be contributing to the creation of friendships and helping to keep people socially active, teaching people a foreign language, and most importantly bringing and keeping communities together.
Follow Spanglish or get in touch
Spanglish Social Media:
Meetup: Spanglish Universal
THANK YOU! GRACIAS!