It is with great excitement that The Sopris Sun steps deeper into its mission “to inform, inspire, and connect” with this week’s launch of a new Spanish section: el Sol del Valle. We thank MANAUS and our first advertisers for backing the project, crafted with care by a modest team that includes Vanessa Porras, a new board member, and Jacquelinne Castro, our translator and layout assistant. We look forward to regular columns written by New Castle Councilwoman Crystal Mariscal, the team at Alpine Legal Services, Judith Alvarez Quiroz with La Clínica del Pueblo, and artist Vanessa Porras. The section will often include other original columns by local leaders and thinkers, plus news bulletins, translated stories, and eventually stories written originally in Spanish or in both languages.

So now, I’d like to explain a choice that we’re making at the onset of this new project. In the interest of providing a space for intimate, relational dialogue, our plan is not to translate every piece of content into both languages, but to leave some content exclusively in Spanish. Likewise, we don’t have the space nor support to translate all of our English content into Spanish. Beyond practicalities, my personal hope is that this new section stimulates a desire — while providing a valuable tool — for language acquisition. You’ll find many things crossing over, particularly from “Scuttlebutt” into “Chisme del Pueblo,” as well as key articles. The rest will depend upon your engaged interest to understand, just as I hope that the majority-English paper is perused by readers of el Sol del Valle to discover useful words and a greater understanding of English in the context of local happenings.

When I first lived in Chile, as a 16-year-old exchange student through the Carbondale Rotary Club, my best method for learning Spanish was deciphering text. I still keep my reference dictionary, tattered and scrawled throughout. Every word that I did not recognize would be searched out and circled, along with the page number, to be easily rediscovered if and when I looked up the same word again. Whether you obtain — or dust off — a Spanish-English dictionary of your own to annotate, or keep a translation website handy (I recommend, my hope is that this new section not only serves to inform, inspire, and include our local Spanish-speaking community —  but that it also appeals to our established audience as a learning opportunity.

As we saw last week, through “I Am” poems written by Crystal River Elementary School Students, the languages blend beautifully. My favorite new word, gleaned from that special, is “cempasúchil,” a borrow-word from Nahuatl, the Aztec language. Translating literally as “twenty-flower,” in reference to the many-petaled marigold, the word also encapsulates a romantic legend. Mourning the death of her partner, young Xóchitl was transformed into the marigold flower by a sympathetic sun god. Huitzilin, the lover killed at war, returns as the hummingbird guided by the flower’s bright colors and pungent scent. “Cempasúchil” exists between life and death, transcending cultures. For it to have appeared organically between the pages of The Sopris Sun is a gift.

Even learning a single new word each week adds up. Eventually, languages serve like trails to explore our infinitely expansive mental landscape. Some paths lead to the same places, in more or less steps (or words). Other paths deliver us to entirely new pensamientos, never before alcanzados. Within each word is a history and the potential to change us.  

Whether or not you treat it as such, we are proud to provide this opportunity and even gladder to carve a space with our resources for authentic dialogue to flourish and flow, informing and connecting our neighbors as we all interpret this place, our home.

What word(s) will you learn this week?

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