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  • Amy Shore
    Associate Professor of the Cinema and Screen Studies program

    My commitment to the University of Delaware’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures began in my first semester (Fall 1989) when a representative of the department came to the entry level Spanish class that I was taking to recruit students “new” to foreign language study in winter session study abroad programs. I was intrigued but knew my family couldn’t afford to send me. But my professor reached out to me, suggested I apply and request a scholarship. That personal intervention changed my life dramatically. I received a scholarship and traveled to Granada, Spain, marking the first time I had left the tri-state area of Delaware-Pennsylvania-Maryland!

    Two years later, Dr. Judy McInnis offered me another extraordinary opportunity: to participate in a summer scholar program sponsored by the Honors Program during which I was able to conduct original research with her. Again, the personal guidance from the faculty in the department took me onto a path that I didn’t know existed: the wonder of original research in the humanities.  A year after that, Dr. McInnis encouraged me to apply to present at an international conference on foreign language and literatures. She then drove me across country to Cincinnati to make the presentation.

    There’s a theme here: As a first generation college student, I had the desire to succeed but had no idea how to navigate the world of college and beyond. UD’s DLLC guided me in ways that opened up futures I could never have imagined. After graduation, I went on to earn my PhD in Cinema Studies at New York University where I focused on culture and media studies. I supported myself during graduate studies by working full time for a public education reform initiative in New York City that was located in East Harlem—a predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhood. Today, I’m Associate Professor of the Cinema and Screen Studies program at SUNY Oswego where we integrate world cinemas throughout our curriculum. The best part about my current position is that the majority of our students are first generation college students—just like I was at UD. Every day, I am guided by the genuine commitment, warmth and rigor that faculty at UD’s DLLC provided to me as I help the next generation learn to use cinema as their “language” to engage and shape cultures worldwide.

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  • Greg Gillespie
    US Government

    ​My studies at UD’s Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures have brought me to many interesting places in the world and have allowed me to achieve my career goals. I majored in Three Languages – Russian, Chinese, and Spanish. Most people would react in the same way upon hearing this mix of languages: “But those are very different languages!” While they are very different, representing various points on the globe, I have been able to use each one in both personal development and career advancement. Spanish has been useful in everyday life, Chinese has been useful in gaining business experience in the corporate world, and Russian has been useful in reaching the next level of my longtime career aspirations – working for the US government.

    Ever since I can remember, I had always wanted to work at an embassy, and last year it finally happened. Upon graduation from UD in 2009, I became part of a federal volunteer corps as a Russian interpreter. During this time I was able to complete my master’s degree, specializing in Russian and East European Studies. After years of language examinations, security clearances, paperwork, and interviews, I was offered a position at the US Embassy in Moscow, Russia. As an “Investigative Coordinator and Linguist” my days are filled with interviewing individuals from Russia and the former Soviet Union, translating and interpreting, and absorbing the world of diplomacy. My experiences in UD’s Russian program have helped me get to where I am today. One of the most critical parts of my studies was my participation in UD’s Study Abroad program in St. Petersburg, Russia in the summer of 2007. Even though learning the language was a key component of my major, learning about Russian culture and the contemporary way of life in a post-communist society has truly prepared me for some of the things I see on a daily basis.

    And the best part of majoring in Three Languages? My next job assignment could be in China or Latin America – and I’ve got the skills and education ready to go.

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  • Courtney Olsen
    Grant Writer at PEN American Center

    Three months after college ended, I woke up yet again far from home. This time, China captivated my present. Following graduation, I decided to really learn this tricky language called Mandarin and committed to a year teaching English in Shanghai. What a formative year it turned out to be, full of long nights spent studying and early days trying to convince five-year-olds that I, a foreigner, had something interesting to say.

    My apartment and school stood walking-distance apart in a district called Xujiahui. Each morning I passed through a mélange of stinky tofu smells and baozi steam while walking to work, a sensory experience frequent in my Chinese life. I quickly settled into a comfortable routine, befriending local vegetable vendors and discovering the best Muslim noodle restaurant in the world’s largest city. I even made quite a few friends who helped me with my Chinese fluency and introduced me to Shanghai staples: KTV (karaoke “box” establishments) and soup dumplings.

    During the Chinese New Year celebrations, I was fortunate enough to have a month off school to travel. Some fellow teachers and I journeyed to Southeast Asia for some spicy food and hot weather. Motorcycle rides, temple tours, and jungle trekking were a few of the many activities marking this experience. Other parts of China were also subject to exploration, from the Terracotta Warriors to the Great Wall. I avidly consumed as much Chinese culture as I could encounter. Hong Kong, though, stuck out more than the other adventures, a place that reminded me of my true home, New York. Huge skyscrapers sharply illuminated the harbor, as Hong Kong has no light pollution guidelines. The population seemed so diverse in comparison to mainland cities, consistently peppered with people of varying backgrounds.

    Finishing up the year in China, I passed the HSK Level 4, a Chinese proficiency exam, took a last glance at sycamore lined streets, and considered staying longer. But I needed cheese, and I needed New York.

    After returning to the US, I immediately moved to Brooklyn, and started writing grants at PEN American Center and scripts for a foreign/domestic policy documentarian. Now I find myself at Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit striving to enforce sustainable business and consumer practices. However, my fascination with China remains strong, and I plan to take an advanced Chinese oral proficiency exam this fall to complete applications for China-centric MBA programs. As someone who used to fear flying immensely, I appreciate the ability to change, for I would not have enjoyed such an enriching year without learning a language and without letting fear go.

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  • Darina Stamova
    PhD Candidate in German at Washington University

    Arriving in Newark, Delaware for a master’s program in German was a turning point in my life. My experiences in American academia have made me confront reality in new ways which, I feel, have facilitated the greatest leap forward in my personal and professional development so far.

    Coming from a small country in Eastern Europe, it was a big surprise to find out that in America not everyone is aware of the benefits of learning foreign languages. It is not a common belief here that one of the best ways to find out more about ourselves, the world, and our own language is to put ourselves in the situation where we are foreign, i.e. by learning a foreign language. I was surprised to discover that in America, German is widely seen as a rather exotic language spoken in some remote countries in Europe – despite Germany’s present cultural, economic, and political prominence in the world. I learned that promoting the benefits of learning languages and German in particular is a central part of the duties of foreign language instructors. In my home country of Bulgaria, I had very motivated children in the classroom. In spite of these unforeseen difficulties of teaching foreign languages and cultures in the US, America offered me very intense and interesting learning experiences. For the first time, I could learn while teaching and was confronted with questions and approaches that revolutionized my understanding of both German and American culture, and the process of learning itself.

    After graduating from UD, I began a PhD program in German at Washington University in St. Louis. I learned to give lots of individual attention to my own students as the class sizes were very small. I went through rigorous pedagogical training and became interested in psychological approaches to teaching. American society is clearly more advanced than Bulgaria in terms of general psychological knowledge, and I became interested in finding out about students’ motivations in order to teach more efficiently. America has proven to be the country of real opportunities for me. It has presented me both with funded opportunities to pursue my interests in literature and philosophy and with new perspectives on my field and the world in general.

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  • Matthew Werth
    Fulbright English Teaching Assistant

    Studying foreign languages at UD has led me to a lot of places I never expected to visit. It gave me the flexibility, cultural understanding, and language skills to be an effective cultural ambassador and it inspired me to push myself and follow my passion for foreign cultures and languages.

    I’ve had the chance to street perform in Ecuador, study tai chi in a monastery, be the only foreigner in a Chinese production of Hairspray, hike thirty miles up and down a mountain while being pursued by monkeys, and, perhaps most importantly, get certified as, “at least moderately attractive or above” during a weekend of modeling in China. Right now I’m in Taiwan teaching English at two rural aboriginal elementary schools as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.

    Aside from making sure they know Justin Bieber isn’t from the US, one of my main goals has been making English come to life in the classroom and use it to accomplish real tasks. Students have found that learning songs, drawing comic books, and running a mock restaurant simulation have been much more effective than passively learning lists of vocabulary and memorizing grammar rules.

    I’m especially proud of a “Guess the American” activity where we showed pictures of people from many different ethnicities and had the students guess which ones were from the United States. Trying to dispel some stereotypes about Americans and celebrate the diversity in the US has been difficult, but also some of the most meaningful work I’ve been able to do.

    Often it’s frustrating – I have fifth graders who don’t know the alphabet and fourth graders who stare blankly when asked, “What’s your name?” Whenever I start to get discouraged I try to remember that the goal of language learning isn’t just being able to talk with people in a different language, it’s about learning to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s about seeing the world from another perspective; it’s a step toward becoming a citizen of the world and not just a citizen of one country. More than anything else that I learned from my time at UD, was the discovery of a new way to view and interact with the world around me.

    I hope to inspire my students to share my passion for languages but, more realistically, I think that in five years many of my students won’t remember how to order food in English. At the same time, I am confident they will remember the connection they made with a foreign teacher. I’m confident they’ll remember dancing, singing, and laughing in class. I’m confident that they will have more knowledge and cultural awareness because of the time we spent together.

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  • Sarah Elliott
    Spanish Teacher in St. Louis, MI

    Presently, I am out in St. Louis, Missouri teaching Spanish at MICDS as well as coaching their 7th and 8th grade FTC robotics team. This spring I will be traveling with a group of our high school students to Argentina as part of an exchange program, and I will also have other opportunities to travel to Spain and Peru with students in the future.

    At University of Delaware I was able to explore my interests in Spanish, Hispanic cultures, pedagogy and the sciences, all of which made it easier for me to market myself when going on the job hunt. Particularly important were my experiences living and studying abroad in Spain, Chile and Peru; as well as my experiences student teaching, TAing, and then part-time teaching at Wilmington Friends during my last year of graduate school.

    During my time studying Spanish education and second language pedagogy at UD, I was able to learn about theories of second language acquisition and best practices that I was then able to transfer to my lessons at Friends as well as my lessons at MICDS. Here we focus on teaching language within the three modes of communication and according to ACTFL’s standards, for which I received a great foundation and understanding through my pedagogy and education classes while at UD. I also had the pleasure and good fortune of seeing excellent teaching on a daily basis in my Spanish classes, and finding mentors and role models in Dr. Brown and Dr. Cubillos (whether they realized it or not!).

    Moreover, this past year I presented a workshop at the Summit for Transformative Learning in St. Louis, which drew teachers from Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio. My workshop focused on scaffolding readings, teaching students how to read and assessing students’ reading abilities. To my surprise, my session was filled with teachers from a variety of disciplines, including foreign languages, history, English, and elementary education.

    I have no doubt that my education and the opportunities afforded to me through studying Spanish Education (BA) and Spanish and Pedagogy (MA) at University of Delaware were hugely important in helping get where I am today, and I am so grateful for that!

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  • Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures
  • Jastak-Burgess Hall
  • University of Delaware
  • 30 East Main St.
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-2591