Those in the area interested in learning, brushing up on or conversing in Spanish can now do so with the creation of the Cooperstown Spanish Club.

Originally from Lima, Peru, group founder Veronica Pokorny said she was excited to find a cultural community in Cooperstown.

“Cooperstown has a small group of Hispanic residents and we love to share our culture and language,” Pokorny said. “When I moved here 12 years ago, I met some of them and initially they were meeting at least once a month to share food, music and conversations. We always invited people that were interested in learning a little of Spanish.”

She said she met SUNY Oneonta Professor William Walker, who started a few events related to Latin culture for his students from the Cooperstown Graduate Program.

“These dinners at the CGP were a success, but this was not enough for me,” Pokorny said.

Pokorny said her 6-year-old daughter, Mariana Pokorny, only knew a few words in Spanish, which was tough on her when visiting Peru. After not being able to converse with other kids in Peru and missing out on playing with them, Mariana realized the importance of knowing the language, Pokorny said.

“I realized that was getting harder for me to teach her by myself, so I got together with other Hispanic friends with the same issues and some American friends that want to practice their Spanish, and we created the Cooperstown Spanish Club this year,” Pokorny said.

The first meeting of the club was Sunday, Jan. 26. Pokorny said it plans to meet two Sundays each month at 1 p.m. in the First Baptist Church of Cooperstown.

When Beth Solá returned to Cooperstown about a year ago after living in Venezuela and working with Spanish-speaking families on Long Island, she said she had a yearning to hear and practice Spanish again.

Solá said she had a similar idea for an informal Spanish conversation group. She learned about the Cooperstown Spanish Club after posting her idea on Facebook shortly after the group’s first meeting. She and Pokorny plan to collaborate, she said. “It’s really about making community connections,” Solá said. “I was really looking for other people who share the same love I do.”

Pokorny said the goal of the Cooperstown Spanish Club is to help adults and kids practice and learn Spanish and learn about different cultures. It will also give kids in Cooperstown earlier access to Spanish lessons, which they previously didn’t have until seventh grade, she said.

“My roots are in Spanish and I embrace where I come from,” Pokorny said. “I’m proud of who I am and I want to share the beauty of the Spanish language with this town.”

The sessions are meant for kids, but any age is welcome, according to the group’s Facebook page. The idea is to practice and teach Spanish through music, crafts and games. Join the Facebook group for more information.

The sessions are free, but Pokorny said small donations are requested for the church that’s letting them use its space on a regular basis.

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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