Oct 08 2014
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!