Food is a common language

Every year, students learning English come the United States to immerse themselves in our language and our cultures.

The costs of the trips, which are paid by the students’ families, is a sizable figure. Heather Espeso, who has run the operation for seven years, would like to expand it with a scholarship for students who would never be able to afford the trip on their own.

“The cost of an airline ticket alone (this year) was $1,600,” she said.

So one of the host parents this year suggested a Spanish dinner as a part of a fund-raiser towards the scholarship. Fund-raisers are not common in Spain, she said.

Espeso explained that some Tidioute Community Charter School students will be making a trip to Spain next year, and they wanted to take Spanish cooking lessons to prepare for the trip. The host parent suggested making more food than was necessary for the class, and the repast was ready.

Host families, visiting students and several TCCS students volunteered to serve the meal at the Youngsville Free Methodist Church on July 22 to around 85 diners.

Espeso’s husband Luis planned the menu and was the “master chef” for the dinner, according to Heather.

The menu featured Spanish cuisine such as paella, soups, salads, a Spanish potato salad and fresh bread that was purchased at cost from the New York Deli in Warren. Appetizers included cheese that Espeso brought from Spain, and she said they tried to prepare the food with locally-grown produce, as it would be done in Spain.

Fund-raising baskets donated by the Warren YMCA, the Jamestown Y summer camp, Whirley DrinkWorks, Jamestown Community College and area families brought the total amount raised to approximately $800.

Anyone wishing to host a student in the future, or donate to the scholarship may contact Espeso at, or call her grandfather, Phil Cerra, at 726-2879 and he will pass the information or supply her number. She will remain in the U.S. until the end of August.