Our Super Teaching Team of Summer Spanish Camp Counselors Venice, CA


¡Hola! I am delighted to introduce our team of counselors for our Camp Aventura summer camp season at Venice Lutheran School  in Venice, CA starting 7/11/16.

It has been my pleasure to work closely with each of them.   They are warm, intelligent, caring, creative, fun, adventurous, hard working and skillful.

Remember counselors will only speak to you in Spanish, so please direct your inquiries if in English to myself or Matt (our asst. site director).  No matter what group your camper is in they will get to meet everyone!

Thanks again for being a part of our Kallpachay family!

Miriam Epstein, Site Director/ Owner and co-founder Kallachay SPANISH Immersion


Cristina Rubio Hignett

I am delighted to be lead teacher trainer, curriculum designer and counselor for Kallpachay. Nine months ago I moved to LA from Valencia, Spain where I was teaching and creating programs for students to learn English.

I have a double B.A. in Hispanic Literature and Linguistics (University of Pittsburgh) and a Master in Applied Linguistics specializing in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language (Universidad de Jaén, Spain).

After graduating university, I spent a summer teaching Spanish in Nicaragua and moved to Spain where I continued to expand my skills as a foreign language teacher (Spanish and ESL).  In the process, I have written six foreign language textbooks, taught for ten years, developed curriculum for after school activities, study abroad programs and summer camps.

Last year I began work on a research project about Spanish-USA exchange programs that I presented at the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages conference this past November.

Now, after having lived in Spain for almost a decade, it is exciting to be back in the US to share my love of the Spanish language and its culture that I am so passionate about.  I enjoy taking my dog on daily outings to the local park, traveling and reading.

Communication is the key to understanding others, achieving personal goals, and above all, having fun!  Teaching others to have this opportunity is rewarding.  


Sandra Rios

I  am currently a Special Ed. assistant at a bilingual school. I have been in the field of special education working with children TK – 5th, and it is the best job ever!

I have over 5 years experience working with children from newborn – 10 and am currently finishing up school studying early childhood and special education. I am excited to finish to explore further my passions in the field of education.

Aside from working with special needs, I also tutor in Spanish across a wide range of topics. I am a native Spanish speaker from Mexico.

  I am looking forward to working with your children this summer. We will have a lot of fun and I will do my part to make this a memorable experience for all of our campers.


Mildred Martinez

I grew up in Mexico where I  attended university majoring in Business and Hospitality. I am currently completing a degree for Math secondary level teaching at Cal State Northridge.  Over the past few years I have been tutoring children of all ages and levels in math.

 I love working with children and am thrilled to give Kallpachay campers  the opportunity  to learn and advance in their Spanish skills. It is one of the greatest gifts a child can receive because it will expand their opportunities.  

I enjoy traveling, taking pictures, doing crafts and gardening in my free  time.

This summer is going to be a fun and rewarding experience for my campers and I can’t wait to meet all of them.


Marcia Bautista 

I arrived in LA from El Salvador in 2007 and have been a teacher in K- 4th bilingual programs since 2000. I have also worked as an intervention paraprofessional in special education. Last year I was on the resource team at Larchmont Charter Middle School. Next year I will be the lead Kinder teacher at Camino Nuevo charter school. I am finishing the UC San Diego Extension program for credentialing.  

In my free time I like to dance, do zumba, play basketball and soccer too. I love working with kids, especially in Spanish Immersion programs because teaching Spanish and sharing my culture makes me feel at home!!    This will be my third summer teaching as a Kallpachay camp counselor.



Adrian Velazquez

I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, my parents are from Mexico. From as early as I can remember I had an interest in art.  It all began when my uncles gifted me small drawings they made.  I noticed the admiration they received for their talents and was delighted when my art received the same attention.  What began as a simple hobby has become my chosen profession.

In my position as an after school group leader for the past four years I am rewarded by being a positive influence on my students and it warms my heart to know I am paying it forward from my time as a student in the very same enrichment programs.  

Working with children inspired me to switch majors from graphic design to art education.  I am a recent graduate of Cal State Northridge with a BA in Art and I plan to obtain my teaching credential and continue for my Masters in Art Education.  I am thrilled that I can guide others to learn the joys of education through the arts.

In my spare time I like to play sports, practice the saxophone, and read.  

Elizabeth Lopez

I am a student at West Los Angeles College studying child development and plan to be a teacher one day.  My experience working with children started as a volunteer assistant leader at my church where I coordinated group activities and led art and singing with the children.  

I was captain of my High School track team and I still make time to  run, make art and listen to music.  I am very excited to be a part of the Kallpachay support team.  I was born in LA and my parents are from Mexico.  I am fluent in Spanish and Italian.   

COUNSELORS in RANAS : (ages 4-5)
Marcia, Sandra, Elizabeth

Cristina, Mildred, Adrian






Speak Up! Finding Comfort In The Uncomfortable

Speak as often as you can the language you are learning to move out of discomfort and into comfort at a pace that quickens the learning process. Speaking in another language that you haven’t yet mastered can be terrifying. So many questions begin to swirl in your head. What if I sound stupid? What if they don’t understand? What will they think of me?

The answers are yes, no, and it’s not what you think. As in; you WILL sound stupid. It’s okay. They WILL NOT understand you. It’s also okay. And they WILL BE appreciative of your effort, and be able to help you out immensely. That is more than okay.to-speak-25734 (1)

This is the proverbial elephant in the room: In order to learn how to speak another language, guess what? You have to actually speak! The biggest mistake beginners make is staying silent. The only way to learn is to fail, over and over again, until your failures become fewer and farther between.


Now, speaking is a task that is obviously easier said than done (please excuse the pun). It is much easier to simply listen – to movies, music, and other people’s conversations. And these are all very important and helpful, but the process of speaking is a naturally corrective one. It gives you the most important answers the quickest.

So instead of wondering how stupid you may sound, whether or not they will understand, and how they will react, I will tell you a little secret. When you speak, it will ABSOLUTELY be very difficult for ANYONE to understand. You will ABSOLUTELY be asked to repeat what you say – and this is extremely helpful for both you and the person you are speaking to. It forces you to think about your pronunciation and also learn perhaps the most important phrase for beginners. “Can you repeat that?”laugh

You will try again, perhaps slower, with a little more thought (your second sentence!). The native speaker will then correct you. The magical thing about speaking is that answers to questions you didn’t even realize you had will be answered. This is why the vocal student learns so much quicker than the silent one.

It all comes down to having the right attitude. This can be a painful process if you take yourself too seriously.  You are going to be saying things that don’t quite make sense.  You can either laugh or cry about it, and I would highly recommend laughing.


Finding comfort in the uncomfortable is a skill that is essential to learning a language. It isn’t easy, but it makes you realize how entertaining a language barrier can be. It also allows you to shift your attention from your poor language skills to notice what amazing empathy is directed your way. They will appreciate you trying to learn their language – because they know it isn’t easy.

It turns out that 9 times out of 10, people are appreciative that you are trying to speak their language, and are more than happy to help.


So start speaking, and watch your lesson plan unfold in front of you naturally!



Immerse Yourself! 5 Affordable Spanish Language Destinations

Hope you like use these suggestions for affordable Spanish language travel immersion experiences.  These are tried and true vacation options.

In our Medieval Spain camp unit, our campers time-travel back to the Middle ages, where thousands of castles were built as Christians, Muslims, and Jews battled for control of the Iberian Peninsula. Beautiful, expansive fortresses built in places like the Alhambra in Granada and La Mesquita in Cordoba live on to tell a rich story of the past.

However, we cannot all travel throughout time just yet. Still, one of the best ways to learn a language is to immerse yourself in the language and culture. Continue your Spanish learning adventure in the following 5 Spanish Language vacations, at a discount!

Colombia – I’m going to start things off with one of my favorite places in the world; Colombia. Colombia is as diverse a country as can possibly be; with a variety of people, cultures, and natural beauty.

From beautiful Carribean beaches and island culture on the cartagenaeastern Coast (Cartagena) to it’s huge, sprawling, and urban business capital (Bogota), there’s something for everyone.

My personal favorite is Medellin, which is a wonderful, green city. It is tucked between a mountain range and has amazing weather year round. If you crave wild life, the amazon river starts in Southern Colombia. This country has access to two oceans, the amazon river, the Andes mountain ranges, and immense wildlife. A round trip ticket from LAX to Bogota is only about $500, and food is cheap and delicious once you arrive.

Puerto Rico – There are two official languages of Puerto Rico -English and Spanish – which makes it a great place to visit for those learning Spanish.  A lot of people don’t realize that Puerto Rico is an American territory. That means you don’t need a passport to get there, and it also means that Puerto Ricans are Americans.


Puerto Rico is a beautiful island that is rich in history, and a very popular tourist destination. Round Trip tickets can go for less than $300 at some points in the year. And did you know that there is a rain forest in the middle of it? On top of that, the entire island is about as large as Los Angeles County. That means you can explore most of the island easily within a week. And yes, they use dollars, so no need to change your currency.


Miami – There is a reason that Miami is knomiamiwn as “The Capital of South America.” It is the gateway to the United States for many Spanish speaking foreigners – Colombians, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and especially Cubans, flock to Miami in huge numbers. Miami is immensely hispanic, with over 60% of its population having hispanic background. That means that Miami’s culture is rich with delicious food and music. It also boasts some of the best beaches in the world, and you don’t even have to leave the United States. $400 can get you a roundtrip ticket from LAX to MIA.


Cuba – At last Cuba is open to U.S. citizens, and it is a beautiful destination for food, music, and beach lovers. Cuba is interesting because of its relationship to the US. Since it wasn’t open to the outside world for decades, it is saidcuba that walking around Cuba is almost like walking in a place that has been frozen in time. All of the cars are old American models, in mint condition. The architecture style is colonial, and people are EXTREMELY hard to understand, even if you speak Spanish. But take advantage of Cuba while you can. It’s a beautiful place to visit.


Mexico – Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without our southern neighbors. A lot of people don’t realize that it only takes about 3 hours driving from LA to get to Mexico. I know people who live in San Diego that literally take an uber to the border ancabod walk across, which is the most time and cost effective way to experience Mexico. You can buy cheap tickets from TJ to more popular tourist destinations like Cabo and Cancun (sometimes less than $200). The truth is that you don’t need to go far for delicious food and beautiful beaches.

Our Spanish camp here in LA is a favorite option for families that are traveling but first want to acclimate their children to an immersion experience.


More from Devin Lester when he returns from holidays in Spain traveling for none other than some culture through fútbol.