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Meet market

Social networking site helps those with similar interests connect face to face

— People of the Capital District are finding new ways to meet up, and now there’s a simple website to help them do just that.

Meetup.com, a social networking site, was created to make it easy for people to hang out with others in their area who share common interests. Since its launch in 2001, Meetup.com has 11.1 million members and 340,000 monthly meetups in 45,000 cities. Members can join groups through a common interest like wine, books or music, enter their zip code, and the website helps navigate them in the right direction. Members can start their own groups as well.

Mike Mahar, co-organizer of the Capital District Spanish Language Group on Meetup.com, said he had taken up an interest in studying Spanish a few years ago. Although he had studied it in high school, he said he realized that Spanish was very relevant to this country and wanted to relearn it.

“One day I said, ‘Is there something I want to improve or start new?’ And I said, ‘Hey, Spanish!’ Here’s something I started a long time ago … let’s see how good I can get,” Mahar said.

Not knowing where to begin, Mahar started searching the Internet for Spanish groups online. He finally stumbled upon Meetup.com, something he had never heard of before.

“Meetup.com is awesome. There are so many interest groups you can choose from,” Mahar said. “So many varieties of interest, especially through Albany. These are groups of people meeting in public. [It’s a] great way to make friends.”

Liz Walsh, a newer co-organizer of the Capital District Spanish Language Group, said she had gone to Guatemala with her husband for four months to study Spanish, and when they came home they needed “an avenue to practice Spanish.” They found the already-existing Meetup group.

Through meeting up with the Capital District Spanish Language Group, members can improve their Spanish at any level, as well as become immersed in the culture and Spanish-related activities.

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