May 3—Students from the Department of World Languages have a number of opportunities to put their education to action, whether it’s studying abroad in Ecuador, tutoring Spanish-speaking students, or serving in Guatemala. Three students share their various cultural experiences, adventures and challenges:
Spotlight on Ecuador
By Elizabeth Gazelka, Spanish & ESL, 2013
Northwestern College abounds with opportunities for students who are passionate about language and culture, including opportunities to take courses at the Center for Christian Communications (CCC) in Quito, Ecuador, a branch campus of NWC.
After expressing interest last year in traveling to Ecuador, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I would be the first Northwestern College student to live and study at CCC. As the “guinea pig” for this never-before-tried option, I am both honored and thrilled to travel to one of the most beautiful places in all of South America. In Ecuador, I am taking classes to receive a few credits for my double major in ESL Education and Spanish.
The real reason for the trip, however, is not simply about academics. I believe that my time in Ecuador will help me with my never-ending pursuit of mastery of the Spanish language and will provide further understanding of the Latin American culture. Better yet, this experience will open doors for other students who want to study at CCC in the future.
Read full story online.
By Kally Kruse, Spanish & EL ED, 2013
La Escuelita is an educational program for Minneapolis students coming from Spanish-speaking homes. I started tutoring at La Escuelita in an attempt to fulfill a requirement for a class project. Not being fluent in Spanish and having no idea what kind of homework the students would have, I was worried that I was under qualified. Little did I know that my Spanish skills were the least of my problems.
The first afternoon I spent at La Escuelita, I found that I had made a few false assumptions. My mind had created an idealized scene of bright, inquisitive students digging into their homework and having meaningful conversations with tutors. What I found was something much more realistic and familiar.
In reality, La Escuelita was a program designed for students who needed a safe place to go after school. In their eyes, that library served far more of a social than academic purpose. Having once been a student in such a program, I immediately understood that my original strategy of sitting back and waiting for the learners to come to me would be useless here. These were seventh graders.
Needless to say, by the end of the first day I was more than discouraged. After one trying afternoon, I was seriously debating whether or not to go back. On the car ride home I spent some time praying about it—though it wasn’t so much prayer as it was telling God why I wasn’t going to return to La Escuelita. God, however, seemed to have a different idea.
Throughout the week God reminded me that this wasn’t about me or what I wanted to do. Though I continued to pray or inform God of my plans for the rest of the week, by the time Monday afternoon rolled around again I was once walking through the doors of La Escuelita. He wanted me to approach these students with compassion and understanding, with patience and interest.
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By Casey Heid, Spanish & ESL, 2013
This summer, the small Central American country of Guatemala was struck by a variety of natural disasters. As an outsider, I will never be able to fully comprehend the magnitude of the damages caused by these disasters. However, I can share what I experienced when I traveled to San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala with a small group of college students.
We planned to spend ten days there, growing in the Lord and serving in any way possible. We did not plan to experience the most violent tropical storm the people of San Lucas had ever endured or two volcanic eruptions that caused the airport to close. Despite these setbacks, we were able to spend time doing meaningful ministry, and the rainy times in our hotel helped us build relationships and devote our time to prayer and the study of God's word.
The first natural disaster to hit during our time in Guatemala was the eruption of Pacaya, a volcano just south of Guatemala City. San Lucas is far enough away that we were not in any immediate danger. However, the airport in Guatemala City was forced to close because of volcanic ash covering the runways and airplanes. While many of the other groups staying at the mission scrambled to find flights home, our group began praying each day that everyone would be safe and that we would be able to depart on schedule.
Read full story online.
Learn more about the Department of World Languages and the various opportunities in which students can participate.