Learning abroad is an unforgettable affair—one that can’t come more highly recommended. In this Q&A series, students and alumni of the Spanish and Portuguese studies department describe how their trips have enriched their lives and given them nuanced perspectives of the languages and cultures they study.
Joseph Rojas learned abroad in three countries and three languages. He discusses how his experiences in Brazil, Venezuela, and France informed his career path. “Adaptability and flexibility are two of the greatest skills I learned as a result of studying abroad.”
Ali Oosterhuis chose a learning abroad program in Ecuador that she knew would challenge her—and it paid off. “No other experience will teach you so much about the vast diversity that exists in the world,” she says.
Margaret Anderson spent spring 2018 in São Paulo, Brazil participating in traveling seminars to the São Paulo state coast, the northern state of Bahia, and to an indigenous village in São Paulo City. Her learning abroad experience was crucial to bridging the cultural differences that she expects to find in her future career.
Issraa El-Khatib spent summer 2018 working an internship in Toledo, Spain and taking a course on Christian, Muslim, and Jewish art. She talks about the significance of connecting with classmates, professors, a host family, and her religion. “As a Muslim, it gave me a sense of familiarity and pride in a country that had seemed so foreign to me before,” she says.
For Jacob Dixon, studying in Maputo, Mozambique confirmed a desire to teach Portuguese and opened up interests in the greater Lusophone world. Support from the Institute for Global Studies and the US Department of Education made his trip possible.
Regan Luker discusses her learning abroad experiences in Toledo, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal and reflects on how they informed her career path in international business. Her time abroad pushed her to “forge deeper relationships with those who come from another culture.”
Greta Treiber spent spring 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She discusses her connection with her host family and her tips for other students looking to participate in learning abroad. By honing her Spanish skills, Treiber hopes to further her intercultural competence as she pursues a master's in arts education.
Two PhD candidates in Hispanic & Lusophone Literatures, Cultures & Linguistics are looking at sociolinguistics of two communities in Spain. Carol Ready conducts ethnographic research involving Moroccan immigrants in Granada and Mónica de la Fuente Iglesias examines language variation in the Spanish spoken in Galicia.
Kathleen Ganley started teaching service-learning classes with the Latino community in 1996. This January, she took a class to the US/Mexico border. Her students returned with an acute understanding of the reality that migrants face when attempting to immigrate to the US.
Sandra Rellier and Ana Claudia Dos Santos São Bernardo are both recipients of the doctoral dissertation fellowship (DDF). With personal connections to and passion for their work, six years of graduate school have prepared them for a professional life in the world of academia.
College in the Schools is a program that provides highly motivated high school students the opportunity to take college courses in a high school setting—with the chance to earn college credit, too. Cristina Castro, who coordinates the CIS Spanish program, explains the program’s impact on students and how it engages Minnesota’s high schools with the University.
After the far-right government executed more than 3,000 young civilians, many Colombian mothers have become dedicated social activists. As part of a Grand Challenge Research Initiative grant and the CLA Dean’s First-Year Research & Creative Scholars Program, a trio of undergraduate students traveled to Soacha, Colombia to interview some of these women. Olivia Nortwen, Sydney Provinzino, and Kylie Sievers explore how mothers are transforming the Colombian social landscape. Their research received the award for “Best Scholarly Presentation” at the 2018 Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Conference.
The annual Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Conference provides a platform for students to share their academic work in a professional setting. It’s an experience that co-chairs of the event, Maryanne Williams Smoczyk and Danielle Dadras, believe allows for students to grow academically and professionally: “The College is placing emphasis on professionalization and readiness as a way to help students understand their potential in the work world.”
Mónica de la Fuente Iglesias and José Aguirre co-chaired a conference that bridged the gap between Spanish and Lusophone disciplines and provided new approaches as how to best address different kinds of emptiness in research. Read more about how the Graduate Student Conference filled voids in research.
Assistant Professor Mandy Menke connected the research and teaching of second languages to define the term "advanced" through a conference she hosted called Evolving Perspectives on Advancedness: A Symposium on Second Language Spanish. Read the full article.
Associate Professor Sophia Beal, a recent Talle Research Award recipient, is determined to tell the untold story of how different cultural groups are shifting the way public space is utilized in Brasília, Brazil.
Spanish Professor Frances Matos-Schultz and her colleague Adolfo Carrillo Cabello are conducting research on how a new online coaching program is improving students’ Spanish speaking skills and increasing their confidence speaking the language in and outside the classroom.
Senior Joseph Rojas discusses his passion for learning languages through his triple major, studying abroad, being the new peer advisor for the Department of Spanish & Portuguese Studies, and plans for the future.