An assortment of JJ Khale’s favorites

Words, weather, places, and people

Eva Berezovsky

More stories from Eva Berezovsky

Conversation with Faculty
December 21, 2018

Spectrum Newspaper: What is your favorite… Unit to teach in Spanish 5?

JJ Khale: I just used the movie Coco for the first time. I’ve never used a Disney movie––ever––but I think they did this one really well. I made the students really learn a lot about Mexican culture before we watched so that they’d recognize things. But there’s [almost nothing] I don’t like that I teach.

SN: School lunch?

JJK: The middle school’s salad bar.

SN: Book written in Spanish?

JJK: Décimas by Violeta Parra. She was a musician, visual artist, poet, and she tragically
killed herself, but she was one of my heroes. Décimas are essentially ten-line verses that have a pretty complicated rhyme scheme and they’re all eight-syllable lines; she wrote autobiographical décimas. She’s just so smart. She used her art to help Chilean people develop positive identity at a time when most of the peasants there were being oppressed.

SN: Author (who writes in English)?

JJK: Octavia E. Butler. She would write about her identity and about time travel to revisit slavery.

SN: Age you’ve been?

JJK: Right now. I’m 56. I’m about to have a grandchild, so I’m just on the verge of that; that’s my next stage. Where I am right now, I’m still able-bodied enough where I can ride my bike to school, but all my kids are grown up and everything’s really nice––easy breezy.

SN: Time of the day?

JJK: I’m a morning person. I get to school at about 6:30 and I love it when it’s quiet around here. I just sit in [my classroom] and get ready for my day. I’m a farmgirl so I wake up early. I’m terrible at night.

SN: Piece of clothing you own?

JJK: My winter boots for biking [from 45NRTH]. They keep your feet warm enough so even if it’s thirty below out, you’re fine.

SN: Band?

JJK: The Beatles. I tend to base everything off of something I know from The Beatles.

SN: Discussion topic?

JJK: I just like to ask people what the best thing that happened to them in the past week or something was. You get to know people that way. Or if you ask someone about a family tradition, you discover a lot. I like to hear people tell me who they are, what’s their story, what’s the meaning behind their name, that kind of thing. It sets the tone for the rest of the school year.

SN: Quote or saying?

JJK: “El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz” – Benito Juárez

SN: Biking climate?

JJK: I like it all year, but there’s nothing like a beautiful ride in the summer.

SN: Favorite artwork?

JJK: There’s a mural that Diego Rivera painted in Mexico. It’s called The History of Mexico and it’s huge, and it includes the good, the bad, and the ugly.

SN: Museum?

JJK: [Museo Nacional Del Prado] in Madrid, probably because I haven’t been to the Louvre.

SN: City?

JJK: Minneapolis.

SN: Spanish word?

JJK: “Pinche,” because it’s not too bad. It means something that’s very evil, something that you really don’t appreciate, low-quality. It can be [anything]. Some people translate it [into the f-word] but that’s not what I mean.

SN: English word?

JJK: “Love.” It’s a pretty good word.