Ready, set… speak!
My name is Guadalupe (Lupe) Torres and I am one of the Spanish Language Assistants. I was born in California, but was raised in Salem, Oregon.
I graduated from Willamette University in May with two majors: Spanish and Latin American Studies and I am happy to be back! For tutoring sessions I will be on the first floor of Ford Hall (you can find my hours on WISE) stop by to get help or just to say hi.
¡Espero verlos pronto!
This is Lucía, an incredibly lucky teacher from the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’ve been living, working and studying at WU for almost two months now, time flies fast (too fast!) when you are learning so much and having fun in the process. This is a long overdue introductory post, I promise to be a more active blogger in the weeks to come.
So yes, I’m from Argentina, but there are a couple of disclaimers I’d like to make:
- I don’t know the first thing about soccer (though it is always fun to take part in the temporary increase in the rate of national pride that takes place during the World Cup)
- I don’t quite like the taste of mate. However, I’ve brought with me all the necessary accessories ‘cause, who knows, I might get nostalgic and start drinking mate in this foreign land. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, so much the better! Mate culture deserves a whole separate post, but for now you should check out this video, where mate makes a stellar appearance on Conan’s special in New York.
- Yes, our beef is great, but I’ve never been a fan of cow’s intestines and blood sausages. Also, we don’t live under a “beef dictatorship”. Geography has also been helpful in providing us with fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables and vegetarianism / veganism are definitely on the rise.
There are, however, other ways in which I could be considered to be typically Argentinian / Porteña (=hailing from the city of Buenos Aires).
- The most evident is my use of “rioplatense” Spanish, which is a variety not usually present in instructional manuals and textbooks. Its most prominent features are the use of the pronoun “vos” (which replaces “tú” and has its own set of conjugations), a “sh” sound when pronouncing <LL> or <Y> (so lluvia becomes “shuvia”, and so on) and particular words and phrases that are directly related to tango culture and, most importantly, the influx of European immigrants (Italians, mostly) that arrived in Buenos Aires at the beginning of the 20th century.
- Argentinians are known for being lenient in their understanding of personal space boundaries. This in turn affects the way we say hello and goodbye to family, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. Our greeting of choice: a kiss on the cheek. The following is not the best of academic sources on the subject, but it gives is pretty comprehensive overview of “kissing options” in most of Argentina (I won’t risk saying that this is true for the whole country). One more thing: my brain does not always remember the culture-bound nature of greetings, so I apologise in advance and retroactively to anyone who finds / has found themselves at the receiving end of an unrequested hug and kiss on the cheek.
What is my role at Willamette University? This academic year I will be assisting professors and students in the Spanish Department through tutoring, Spanish Table and the organisation of events together with the Spanish Club. In addition to this, I get to take part in the American higher education experience by taking classes and participating in some of the extracurricular activities offered on campus. Having spent my college years in a public institution (i.e.= no tuition fees) which is academically highly regarded but always struggling with lack of funds, I can’t help but to get mesmerised by the number (and the quality) of resources and educational opportunities available at WU. I understand, however, that no system is perfect.
The fact that I’m here at Willamette University working as a language assistant is the result of a series of fortunate events, starting with a sleepless night back in November last year when I decided to put together my Fulbright application at the very last minute. I’m not advocating for poor organizational skills, but I’m sure that there’s someone out there who has juggled school and work at the same time and understands the rush of getting things done under pressure. I was working at three different schools at the time and at some point the number of students I was teaching was close to 250, an interesting mix of young learners, lovely teenagers (oxymoron intended) and adults. As the application deadline loomed closer, there was always a new pile of homework to correct or a well-deserved nap to be taken that kept me from sitting down to write that dreaded personal statement. I considered giving it all up way too many times, but as I write these words sitting in one of the couches in Ford Hall, I’m ridiculously glad I didn’t.
So yes, I teach English. I’m an “agent of imperialism”, as some have been kind enough to point out. There was a period when I actually took those words to heart and seriously considered taking a different career path. In all honesty, it is not unreasonable to get that kind of reaction in a country that has not always been on the best of terms with other English-speaking countries. However, it was at the beginning of 2014 that I participated in a teacher-exchange program in Wichita, Kansas. Apart from being a great personal experience, my days in the “American heartland” were equally eye-opening from an academic and professional point of view. I was fortunate enough to visit a school district that is very interesting in terms of its demographics: more than half of school – age children attending public schools are of Hispanic origin and speak Spanish as their first or second language. Sitting in on lessons and assisting teachers, I saw inclusive language instruction in action and I returned to Argentina with a renewed faith in teaching in general, and bilingual education in particular.
Have all the studying, teaching and Youtube-watching made me a thoroughly competent and confident language user? Not really. I still have trouble making small talk (what is one expected to say when asked “What’s good?” There are some many good things in this world!) and I’ve stopped counting the times I’ve made some Italian-inspired gesture that makes absolutely no sense in English. I used to get upset about things like these (after all, I’m a teacher, I should know better!), but I guess that’s part of the beauty of learning a foreign language. You can never get too comfortable, there’s always a new word or word usage waiting to be found and explored. I do hope that during my stay at WU I will be able to spark some curiosity and help you through the ever-changing Spanish language landscape.
See you around!
Come join Matias and the returning Study Abroad students (whom selected Argentina as their destination for their semester(s) away from Willamette) to drink Yerba Maté (a Central/South American infused tea) and discuss/practice the language and culture of these countries. There may even be a bit of sun for you
This event has already proceeded.
The Spanish Department, Spanish liaison, Spanish club & WLS would like to invite you to watch Las Viudas De Los Jueves” (Thursday Night Widows). In this movie, families who live in a gated community in Argentina show us how the 2001 economic and political crisis in led them to take drastic measures in order to continue to belong to the wealthy, upper class.
It will be shown once again in the World Languages Studio (Ford 101) on 03/12 at 7:30pm as per usual.
Hello Willamette Spanish speakers, learners and lovers!
Join us this Thursday (11/16) at 7:30 pm in the World Languages Studio, Ford 101 for our first ‘Noche de Cine’!
We will be watching Diarios de Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries), and yes, there will be popcorn.
A great chance for a near the end of the week wind-down and some time to kick it with our awesome Language Assistant Matias and Spanish Liaison Aviva (:
And no intimidation necessary, we will be watching with subtitles. We hope you join us to enjoy this renown piece of cinema.
I was born in El Sauce, Michoacán, México. This is a small ranch five kilometers north of Cotija. The readers of this short piece may be aware that the country of Mexico is composed of 31 states and one federal entity, known as El Distrito Federal (Federal District) also known as la Ciudad de México. The Mexican state from whence more immigrants have come to the USA is Chihuahua; number two on that list is Michoacán. A poor economy is the primary reason for immigration from one country to another practically anywhere on planet earth. Mexico is a very mountainous, arid, land. Only 7% of the country is considered fertile. The state of Nebraska alone produces more corn than the country of Mexico. Illinois and Iowa in that order produce more corn than the Cornhusker state. Granted, not all the crop is utilized or grown for human consumption (cattle feed and gasoline additives). Wealth and power in México is controlled by the elite, roughly 2% of the population. We are speaking about a country of 110 million individuals. The disparity between wealthy and poor is simply astounding.
In March of 1974 when my family and I crossed the U.S.-Mexican border and came to live in Parkdale, Oregon. I was a little over two years old at this time. I grew up in Hood River and Wasco Counties of Oregon. Some may say I am an anomaly, as I maintained my mother tongue as I acculturated to life in the U.S. Historically, most immigrants become English dominant or monolingual during the second or third generation. The pressure of society for newcomers to learn and speak only English has lessened in most urban areas in the last ten years, in my estimation. In fact, I have witnessed a tidal wave of young people engage in the active and eager participation of learning a second (or more) language. In rural areas, the immigrant communities, especially the children, are strongly “encouraged” to speak English and to not speak their first language. Children are not fools. They will do what it takes to be accepted by those around them. It takes a persistent soul to maintain two or more languages in the face of adversity. It is fairly rare for individuals to maintain their first language given that the k-12 educational system has focused its instruction in English. Simply speaking one language does not signify that a person has a high degree of mastery. Study is what it takes to improve one’s language skills. This is a process of life-long work if the participant cares to undertake the challenge.
I look forward to meeting more students, faculty and staff at Willamette University. I am thrilled to be a part of the World Languages Studio as a new Spanish Language Assistant.
May you walk in beauty (Navajo saying),
Hi everybody! this is Matias Torres and I am the Spanish language assistant this year at Willamette thanks to the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant program and Willamette University. First I am going to tell you a little bit about myself. I am 29 years old and I am originally an English teacher in Argentina. I work at four different places there. I teach English language and literature in English in two bilingual high schools and I also teach two classes (English Language II and Children and Young Adult Literature) at a Teacher Training College. I also teach business English and I am the interpreter and translator at a company that produces and exports grape juice concentrates.
Even though I got my teaching degree in 2009 I have been teaching for 9 years now and last year I decided that I was going to apply for a scholarship to teach and study abroad. The process was not easy at all but it was worth the effort! Only 23 teachers out of 80 were selected to participate in the program and I was very lucky to be selected by Willamette to be a language assistant here.
In Argentina, I live in a province called Mendoza, which is located in the Midwest of Argentina. Mendoza is a very famous province for the wine production, So much so that some years ago it became the eighth Wine Capital total of the world! Here is a video that you can see to get to know little bit more about what wine represents to Mendoza.
Mendoza Capital Mundial del Vino
As regards traveling abroad, this is my second time in the US. The first time I was living in Wyoming for five months on another exchange program in 2007. After we finished with the program I traveled with my friends to many parts of the United States. That trip really marked my life since I developed a taste for traveling. After that, I have been to some countries in Latin America and to a couple more in Europe as well.
I am really happy to be here and I hope I can help as many people as possible! Hope to see you around!
My name is Matias Torres and I am form Argentina. I will be the Spanish language assistant at Willamette this year. I am 29 years old and I am teacher of English language and culture. I live in a province called Mendoza which is very famous because it became a Great Wine Capital recently and also for the great steak you can eat there.
Even though I have lived in Mendoza all my life, I love traveling and I take advantage of every opportunity to do it when I can. I lived for five months in Wyoming in 2007 while I was on another interchange program and I got the chance to visit many states of the US. I have also been to some parts of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Italy and Spain and some parts of Argentina as well.
I am very eager to answer all questions that you may have either on the Spanish language or on my culture. Soon I will be publishing my tutoring hours and the Spanish table schedule. You are more than welcome to stop by. I hope to see you around soon!
In order to let you know a little bit more about Mendoza, the city where I come from, I decided to upload some pictures taken by the Instagram user @jedidiahjenkins. He’s on an epic journey called #OregontoPatagonia. He’s been cycling around the continent and I found it interesting that he actually started his journey here in Florence, Oregon! A couple of weeks ago he stopped by my province and he took the last three pictures you will see below. I’ve been following since last November and I recommend you following him if you are an Instagram user as well.
The other pictures and the video as well are part from a campaign that Mendoza’s government is doing to help Mendoza become one of the 7 Wonderful Cities of the World (currently it is in the top 21!). So if you want to help my city win, go to http://www.mendozamaravillosa.com/ !!!
Dear Spanish Students,
Here some pictures from our Fiesta Latina! We had a great time and enjoyed delicious food, music and presentations.
¡Gracias por participar!