Foreign Languages: Where Are They Now?
Major: Foreign Language
Senior foreign language majors Ashley Thiel and Monica Bixby have received notification of their acceptance as Cultural Ambassadors by the Education Office of the Embassy of Spain. Starting September 2011 through June 2012, each will have the opportunity to live in Spain and become acquainted with the Spanish education system with teachers and students while sharing with them aspects of their own language and culture.
Monica Bixby began her studies at Marywood as a French Secondary Education major, but sophomore year decided the business world was a better fit. Just four years later, Monica will now head to Madrid as a Language and Culture Assistant to sharpen her Spanish skills.
Ashley Thiel, a Scranton native, student taught French at Old Forge High School and Spanish at Pocono Mountain West Junior High this past semester. Ashley, a gifted, new teacher, is looking forward to comparing her previous students here with the new ones awaiting her in El País Vasco.
The Language and Culture Assistants program is coordinated by the Spanish Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Spanish Comunidades Autónomas and the Education Offices of the Embassies of Spain in the United States and Canada. The director, Jesús Álvarez, accepted Dr. Jose Reyes' invitation to visit Marywood campus in fall, 2009 to explain this recently created scholarship to foreign language students.
Major: Secondary Education Mathematics
Due to my ability to speak Spanish as well as my mathematics skills, I was offered a position that gave me the best of both worlds. I am now working as a Bilingual Mathematics teacher at Morristown High School.
I definitely believe understanding and speaking Spanish help me be a better nurse.
"I definitely believe understanding and speaking Spanish help me be a better nurse. There is a substantial increase in the number of Spanish-speaking patients with whom I come in contact. Our local hospitals have taken huge steps to attempt to accommodate these patients with language lines and printed material in Spanish. The problem with this approach is that a great part of nursing is about comfort and healing. I think that a certain amount of empathy and compassion is lost by ways of these resources. When I communicate with patients in their native language, there is an increased sense of comfort and trust that occurs. Even if my Spanish is not exact, patients respond very well to my attempt. In a serious and sometimes scary atmosphere, I can afford a sense of comfort and familiarity to patients and even to their families that may otherwise be lost. To a certain degree, I feel that there is even an increased sense of trust that often occurs. My role as a healthcare worker is heightened due to the fact that the patient can better relate to my position through the common bond of language."
Major: Physician Assistant Studies
"Not only did studying abroad fulfill a dream, but also it helped me to foster a unique skill that I strongly believe will allow me to provide better care to my patients. My understanding of the culture as well as the ability to converse with my patients in their native tongue will help develop a stronger provider-patient relationship. "
I can remember arriving at freshman orientation. With registration paperwork in hand, I perused the list of seminars that were being offered throughout the day. As I had already been recruited to join the soccer team, attending the athletics seminar was a given. Required to partake in two other seminars, I continued looking through the options. One in particular sparked my interest, international affairs. Studying abroad seemed to me as the quintessential part of a college experience. However, never in my wildest dreams did I think it would become my reality. Between the course load and demands of dual majoring in Spanish and Pre-Physician Assistant studies as well as the time commitment involved with playing a collegiate sport, I could not see myself being able to take advantage of such an opportunity.
Flash-forward five semesters: I had been accepted to the professional phase of the Physician Assistant program. Just one week following the spring semester, I would no longer be part of traditional undergraduate curriculum and would begin completing coursework year round for the next 27 months. Consequently, I was in the middle of my last season with the women's soccer team. And that's when it happened. I found myself sitting in the foreign language department at Dr. Reyes' request. He explained that a new organization was running a study abroad program for the spring semester in Salamanca, Spain that unlike others, allowed me to be back in time to start the Physician Assistant program. There it was, my chance. As I was coming to the end of my Spanish graduation requirements, it was perfect timing. With the encouragement and support of the foreign language department, I was able to navigate through a few roadblocks and ultimately make studying abroad my reality.
January will mark three years since I embarked on my study abroad journey in Salamanca, Spain. By choosing to stay with a host family and opting to take classes only taught in Spanish, I was continuously immersed in the Spanish culture and was provided an incredible opportunity to improve my fluency in the language. For close to four months, I took in the character-filled architecture, tried a variety of new foods, met people from all over the world and adjusted to a different way of life. Most importantly however, with each passing week I came closer and closer to my real objective, a more profound understanding and command of the Spanish language. This goal forged in part by my love of the language, but also because I knew that being proficient in Spanish would greatly benefit me in my future career as a Physician Assistant.
Although I tried my best to enjoy every moment, my time in Spain went by far too quickly. As I became engrossed in my Physician Assistant studies, I never let my beloved second language stray too far from me. I would watch the occasional Spanish movie in my free time or put on my Spanish play list in the car on my commute. And of course, I was always excited when I had the chance to use the language to better communicate with patients while on clinical rotations. My two passions truly became one however, when I decided to complete my final senior project in Spanish.
In the three years since I returned from Spain, I have completed the Physician Assistant program, passed the National Certifying Exam and in just a few short weeks I will start my first job in a busy Family Practice office. I look back on my time fondly. Not only did studying abroad fulfill a dream, but also it helped me to foster a unique skill that I strongly believe will allow me to provide better care to my patients. My understanding of the culture as well as the ability to converse with my patients in their native tongue will help develop a stronger provider-patient relationship.
Class of 2013 Major
I am currently working on the island of Curacao as a third/fourth grade teacher for a group of students that are all English Language Learners.
After graduating from Marywood University with a degree in Elementary Education and Spanish, life took me to a place I never thought I would be: the Caribbean. I am currently working on the island of Curacao as a third/fourth grade teacher for a group of students that are English Language Learners. During the week, I am at school with my 24 students, but on the weekends the island is mine to discover. Here, I am able to combine both my areas of study into one rewarding career. Had I not met and worked with the professionals I did while studying at Marywood, I would never have this opportunity of living my dream. Thanks to my education at Marywood, I am able to do what I love.
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