Alumni Viewpoint:  John Collins, Spanish, Class of 2012

Photo provided by John Collins.  Used with permission.

My name is John Collins and I graduated with a Spanish Major from Wake Forest University in May, 2012. For the last 11 months I've been volunteering in Quito, Ecuador through the organizations United Planet and Voluntariado para la Ayuda Social de Ecuador (VASE). I am currently working for Fundación Salesiano in the Centro de Referencia in Pisuli. This is a very underdeveloped area of Quito with many in-need families. My primary function in the Center is refuerzo escolar, helping the kids with their studies and homework. I also help in organizing material assistance for the children at the start of every semester and throughout the school year (book bags, school supplies, journals, etc.). My experience and studies in Spanish at Wake Forest have been extremely integral during my time here in Ecuador. Learning a second language, and especially Spanish, can really open doors in a lot of places, not to mention, it makes it possible to speak with and get to know literally MILLIONS more people. It's a big world out there, and a lot of those people hablan español. I know my experience abroad this year would not be what it is without the preparation and knowledge I gained in my studies at Wake.

Student Voices:  Matthew Connor, Portuguese Student

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Senior Matthew Connor is an English and Spanish double major. 
Photo provided by Matthew Connor.  Used with permission.

I am currently working for the PGA TOUR and their Olympic Golf Course development project in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games. The year 2016 marks the first time since 1904 that competitive golf will be included in the official Olympic Programme and the PGA TOUR plays an integral role in developing the sport within Brazil. I am responsible for translating the golf course’s construction logistics, environmental guidelines, and press releases between Portuguese and English as well as interpreting communications between the committees stationed in Rio de Janeiro and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. This responsibility has provided me with a great opportunity to develop my Portuguese in a professional setting while interacting with native Portuguese speakers. Through this process I have acquired a better understanding of the cultural differences between Brazilian and American enterprises and the intricacies of the Portuguese language. Studying Portuguese at Wake Forest is a great experience and I fully intend to continue my language studies after witnessing the benefits of a multilingual skill set.

Student Voices:  Tiffany Virgin, Portuguese Student

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Junior Tiffany Virgin is a Political Science major.
Photo provided by Tiffany Virgin.  Used with permission.

I am interested in immigration law, so I interned at an immigration law firm in Miami over the summer. I worked directly with clients, attorneys, and immigration officers of USCIS. As part of the experience, I helped attorneys at the firm communicate with interested clients from Brazil who were not proficient in English. I was the only one at the firm who could communicate in Portuguese. It was very exciting to be able to apply my language skills in a real-world setting. This experience encouraged me to further my studies in the Portuguese language as it made me realize that Portuguese-speaking clients are just as interested in coming to the United States as Spanish speaking clients.     

Alumni Viewpoint: Lauren Hull, French, Class of 2013

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Photo provided by Lauren Hull. Used with permission. 
Lauren Hull is currently working as an English teacher in Brittany, France, as part of the Teaching Assistant Program sponsored by the French Ministry of Education and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.  

I'm teaching in Questembert at Lycée Marcelin-Berthelot, but I live in Vannes about a 35/40-minute drive away. I love the Morbihan region, Vannes, and the high school where I'm teaching. The other teachers are really friendly and welcoming and the students especially enjoy learning from someone closer to their age and getting to practice talking about subjects they're interested in. In Vannes, I live with four French roommates, and spending time with them has been a great way to meet people and improve my French (especially slang).

Thoughts on Wandering & Wandering Thoughts (from Lauren Hull’s blog, fall 2013)

Since arriving in France, I've enjoyed a constant stream of novelties, from food (lots and lots of new tastes), to city scenes and landscapes, to vocabulary, to friendly new faces... I could go on, but I think the point is made - these first three weeks that I've been in France have been chockfull of discovery and I have been in paradise running around and soaking it all in. A good friend from camp asked me a few summers ago why I enjoyed traveling and … my friend's question got me reflecting on how my desire to travel reflects my character, affects my life trajectory, and illustrates my spiritual disposition. Welcome to the life of a 20-something, liberal arts graduate discovering that her life is no longer a color-in-the-lines type of book. Every thought and experience ultimately leads to a moment of overly dramatic metaphysical reflection.  
My morning car rides from the city into the countryside to school are also incredibly beautiful. […] We drive east so we're headed towards the sunrise through rolling fields occupied by cows and the occasional cornfield, all covered in a thick mist. As the sun shines through the fog, adding light and color to the country landscape, it is simply breathtaking. 

I feel like I am always in awe here. From the start of my day with the misty sunrise to each beautiful sunset over the ocean or gulf. I love to feel that sense of wonder and to be inspired by the beauty around me. I think that's a natural human craving that we often seek to satisfy by traveling to new places and seeking new sights…..

Student Voices:  Pearson Lien, Italian Student

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Group photo from Venice, summer 2013.  Pearson is in the center in the light blue dress.
Photo provided by Pearson Lien. Used with permission. 
My name is Pearson Lien. I am a sophomore here at Wake and I am in the process of founding The Italian Club. As we begin, I will be the president with Sara Brigagliano as vice-president, Joe Motola as treasurer, and Katie Gamble as secretary. The four of us studied abroad in Italy with the Casa Artom program this past summer (2013), and there we discovered our love for the Italian culture.
Upon coming back to Wake Forest, we wanted to form an Italian Club where we could take Italian out of the classroom. Sara Brigagliano shares, “What I learned at Casa Artom was not out of a book, but through living, eating, and breathing Italian. Our goal is for the club to serve as a window into the Italian language and culture here in Winston-Salem.” Hopefully, the club will also encourage students to study abroad so that they can have a similar experience like ours.
Lastly, we also aim to encourage students to look into the Italian culture. The club is not to focus primarily on the language but on the beauty of the culture. A flight to Italy is costly, but club membership is free.

Alumni Viewpoint:  Marc Barnett, Italian, Class of 2013

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Photo provided by Marc Barnett. Used with permission. 

Reflections on the other: Intercultural Explorations in Lombardia                           
Sitting here writing this in my apartment 30 minutes outside of Milan, I realize how much I truly owe to the Italian section of the Romance Languages Department, particularly Dr. Morosini and all of the other professors that I have had the pleasure of meeting during my four years bouncing in and out of classrooms studying Italian. Four years ago, while struggling in Italian 113, I never thought that I would be where I am right now, in Lombardy teaching Italian high school students English. For my entire life Italy was a siren, gently calling me, pulling my interest in and then deeper. The history of my family and the history of my roots spread throughout the beautiful Italian terrain, from the Alps in Trento, where my grandmother was born, to the rolling Tuscan hills where her parents were born, all the way to Naples and has lured me my entire life.
Clearly, Italy and I have a history, but my love affair with Italy really started while studying abroad. After coming back from Florence, I knew that after I graduated I had to come back, had to see more, experience more. Then one day in class Dr. Morosini told us about this opportunity to teach English in Lombardy. So I applied, was accepted, and here I am teaching, and more importantly learning about me, about Italy, about people.
So far, after a month and a half of teaching, I’ve had many fun (try asking an Italian to say milliliter) and memorable moments, and learned not only about Italian culture, but also my own culture. Some of the best moments teaching include being asked by my students if it’s true that American’s eat “mice” for Thanksgiving, only realizing after, that they were saying Maize, as in corn, or when one of my students, talking about herself and her boyfriend said she “split him up,” rather than “split up with him.” Also, in one of my first days teaching, I was nervously twirling a marker, and accidently hit a student in the face with the marker. I was absolutely mortified, but the student laughed, then I did, and then the entire class laughed, after that everyone was much more relaxed, and hopefully learned some English too, though I’m not making any promises.
Ultimately, I wake up every day excited to teach, but more importantly excited to learn. I certainly would not have had this opportunity to teach in Italy without the help of the Wake Forest Italian section, not only in terms of help with the application, but more importantly I felt prepared, linguistically and culturally, to move to Italy and survive, to make a life uninhibited by language or cultural barriers. This is by far the most important thing that I learned from the Italian professors; even though I still have difficulty with the subjunctive in Italian (shh . . .). I can still have a meaningful conversation, although I’ve picked up some bad habits from my students, as in speaking Italian like a teenage girl.