By Shayla T Hayes
For the terms of Winter and Spring of 2017, I decided to start a journey to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to study abroad through a program called CIEE. For these six and a half months I was able to immerse myself in the Brazilian culture and gain an experience I will never forget. I left in the beginning of January and flew in alongside a group of students that were both American and of other nationalities. I was placed into a host family who lives along the beach of Botafogo in Rio. This family consisted of a host mom, dad, and sister who was 9 years old. They also had a cat, Calvin, who became attached to me at the hip by the time I left. They all welcomed me with open arms, and I got to know them very well. None of them spoke English, so it forced me to practice my Portuguese right off the bat.
For the first month that I was in Brazil, I attended PUC-Rio. During this month, I took an intensive Portuguese. It was a lot to take in at once. On the bright side, I was able to meet a bunch of new students during this time, and I got to know my fellow international peers well. I then started school at ESPM in the central part of Rio. It was downtown and a business and design school. Here I studied photography and 3D animation for the next five months. I made some amazing Brazilian friends at ESPM. They guided me when I was lost, taught me things about Brazilian culture, and laughed with me just like any of my friends in the US would continue my Portuguese course studies, I had a private teacher through CIEE named Marco.
Outside of class, I experienced so many unforgettable things throughout the country. In February I was privileged enough to experience Carnival. It was indescribable, and the passion and liveliness were amazing. When I go back to Brazil, I hope to go during Carnival. I also traveled a lot. São Paulo, Vítoria, Salvador, Iguaçu, Ilha Grande and Argentina are just a few places to name. I had endless pictures from all of these journeys.
In Vítoria I was able to see my Brazilian brother, Vitor. I visited him at least four times during the six months. My mother also visited in May, and I was able to show her everything I was accomplishing and doing while exploring the wonderful country I lived in. Other things I did in my spare time was a hike, do internships with design, teach an English class to second graders, relax on the beach with a caipirinha in hand, and spend time with friends. I spent so much time on the beach and hiking it was insane. Other activities like soccer games, samba classes, and concerts were also on the list! Overall, I loved my time abroad. It was life-changing. Brazil has truly become a second home in my heart.
By Adrien Detchmendy
During Summer 2017, I traveled to Rio de Janeiro to participate in an intensive Portuguese language program. I had taken Portuguese classes at the U of O since my freshman year. Ever since I was young, Brazilian culture and the Portuguese language fascinated me, but I never was given the chance to take a Portuguese language class. When I entered into freshman year I signed up for Portuguese 101 taught by Bene Santos. Immediately I began to pick up the language with ease. I think a major factor into that was the professors teaching style. We drilled concepts but stuck to one a week, which gave me a strong base and understanding of the language. After I had finished the first year of Portuguese, my Portuguese professor suggested I look into studying abroad somewhere in Brazil. In fact, the professor strongly suggested it to all of the students in the class and implored people to travel to Brazil and experience the culture.
Going into my second year of Portuguese, I noticed the style of the class changed from the first year. Instead of focusing on vocabulary the focus was more on being capable to hold a conversation with a native speaker or someone who is learning as well. It was around this time I identified a summer program in Rio that looked good. As I began the process of applying, my professor couldn’t have been more helpful with it. She was more than happy to write me a recommendation to go and implored me to ask any questions or concerns I may have. Through the end of my second year in Portuguese, the class became increasingly focused on reading comprehension and conversation practice. One of our final projects was a 5-minute dialogue with another student about our summer plans. By doing all of the conversation practice and comprehension I felt I brought a strong understanding of the language with me to Brazil.
The program I was chose was an intensive Portuguese language course at PUC, a private Catholic university in Rio de Janeiro. From start to finish, the program lasted a little under 5 weeks. I was going to be staying with a host family in Copacabana. Going there, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. However, shortly I arrived I realized I had chosen the right place to come. The people in Brazil were warm, nice and very patient with me. They encouraged me to speak Portuguese anywhere I went and often they liked helping me practice so I could better learn and speak their language. Within the first week of being there I could feel my confidence increasing and by the end of my program, I was navigating the city and surrounding areas with ease. I think this transition, which can be so hard for others, was so easy for me because of all the conversation practice I had done in my Portuguese classes at the U of O.
H. Ní Aódagaín (Spanish MA 2000) writes about “The Ultimate Teaching Tool: Reaching Out to Students Through Spanish Classes, and Love”
The Ultimate Teaching Tool
Reaching out to students through Spanish classes, and love
“¡Hola! ¿Cómo fue su fin de semana?” Another Monday morning Spanish class begins. Some students are alert, ready to start. Others straggle in late, excuses tumbling from their mouths. A few students are reticent to engage, even though it’s the sixth week of class. I make a special effort to reach out to them.
“How was your weekend?”
“I had to work,” the standard reply.
But sometimes their eyes meet mine, and I confront a face clouded with grief.
“My grandma died.”
Students attending Umpqua Community College (UCC) aren’t your typical undergrads. They didn’t participate in the local rite of passage, the one-hour drive north to attend the University of Oregon. They are the sons and daughters of the working class of Douglas County, whose median poverty rate rests at 20 percent. They’ve watched the timber industry—the foundation of the region’s economy—be decimated. Their dads, after years in the woods, might sit beside them in class as part of job retraining.
Domestic violence, drug abuse, and teen pregnancy form the fabric of many of these students’ lives. But so does the strength of their faith, the joys of hunting and fishing among the exquisite forests and green-gold waters of the Umpqua, and the multi-generational ties of family, a web that remains resilient against all odds. A student who mourns her grandmother mourns someone who kept her safe, told her she was smart or, without needing words, that she was loved.
Coming from a long line of educators, I believe in the power of teaching to change lives. Upon receiving my master’s from the UO in Romance Languages in 2000, I felt a duty to bring the larger world to students whose exposure was limited. I used the mechanics of Spanish as the first step toward introducing them to a bigger perspective.
It began simply enough: reciting the ABCs or counting to 10. Learning the basic question words to the tune of “Jingle Bells” had students in stitches. Maybe this Spanish stuff wasn’t so bad after all. Through the conjugation of verbs and teaching the difference between “el” and “la,” I communicated to each person that I believed in their innate ability to acquire knowledge.
“I can’t learn a language. I failed Spanish in high school,” they’d wail.
“You learned English. That’s a language. If you couldn’t speak English, then I’d agree. But you’ve already learned a language.”
My method of teaching—acknowledgment of each student’s inherent worth, and their right to be treated with dignity—grew from interacting with the distinctly unique individuals I taught: flawed, wounded, beaten down—yet still hopeful, alive, yearning.
My students taught me that encouragement, authentic caring, and respect are fundamental to the nurturing of a soul. In a classroom environment in which positive feedback—however small the achievement—was the underlying philosophy, students who were afraid to speak raised their hands, older women who had been told they “didn’t have the smarts to go to college” aced their tests, and eighteen-year-olds who hadn’t ever stepped onto a plane began to dream of visiting Paris.
From Mandy who couldn’t find Mexico on a map, to the former drug addict who gained entry into a highly competitive UO program, each student had a story worth telling. My job was to listen for it behind their self-deprecation and lack of confidence. Once I heard even a whisper of what a student wished for and was capable of, I drew out the most powerful tool I possessed and wielded it with fervor.
The subject was Spanish. The teaching tool was love.
On October 1, 2015, a UCC student shot and killed his professor and eight students. This essay is dedicated to the professor, and my colleague, Larry Levine; to the students who lost their lives while educating themselves; and to their families, for whom no words can ever console enough.
H. Ní Aódagaín, MA ’00, taught Spanish for 15 years at Umpqua Community College. To read her full essay, visit “Reaching through the Portal” at hnauthor.com.
Illustration by Sonia Pulido
Delaney Swink, who completed her B.A. with departmental honors in Romance Languages in June 2017, has received the American Translators Association Student Translation Award to support her Spanish-to-English translations of feminist Chilean poet Rosa Alcayaga’s book Maldito Paraíso [Damned Paradise]. Assessing the project, the ATA judges admired Delaney’s “topic, translation style, and the potential for publication.” Besides the award itself, she receives a stipend toward attending its presentation at the ATA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., in October 2017.
Delaney’s project is also supported by the Global Oregon Translation Studies Working Group Undergraduate Translation Award. Together, these will help her travel to Chile for three weeks in January 2018, where she will meet and work directly with Ms. Alcayaga on the project-in-progress. Rosa Alcayaga’s work combines literary and colloquial Spanish, and its cultural allusions range from Biblical-era patriarchs and resistant women heroes to Latin American history and current social-political issues including gender violence. Delaney’s translations render these complex meanings and key contexts in lively English. The project began in Amanda Powell’s translation seminar (RL 407/507) in winter 2017.
¡Felicidades y buena suerte, Delaney!
Briauna Jones (B.A. Spanish and Comparative Literature, with Latin American Studies minor, 2017) will travel to Peru after graduation in June to work in the youth development sector of the Peace Corps. After three months of training in Lima, her job will focus on healthy lifestyles and vocational skills for youth aged 14 to 22.
“I look forward to using my Spanish in a meaningful way in order to communicate with youth about well-rounded diets, safe sex practices, and exercise plans, as well as interviewing skills and resume building,” says Jones, a native of Sunriver, Oregon. Her assignment runs from August 2017 to December 2019.
Barbara Zaczek, Professor Emerita of Italian, Department of Languages, Clemson, University, Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, University of Oregon, 1992
Since coming to the Department of Languages at Clemson University in 1993, Barbara Zaczek was instrumental in creating a vibrant Italian Program that now offers both a minor and a major of Italian.
She has developed an intensive, introductory course to Italian language and culture for the Clemson Architecture Program in Genoa, Italy, which is now an integral part of the curriculum. She served twice as Interim Chair of the Department (2008-2010 and 2014-2015). Her research is strongly interdisciplinary, combining comparative literature, literary and feminist theory, history, and art. Her publications include three books: Censored Sentiments–Letters and Censorship in Epistolary Novels and Conduct Material (University of Delaware Press, 1997), Resisting Bodies: Narratives of Italian Partisan Women (co-authored with Rosetta D’Angelo, Annali d’Italianistica, Studi & Testi, vol. 9, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2008) and a translation of Olimpo [Mount Olympus], a 2006 novel by Umberto Piersanti, (Sciascia Editore: Caltanissetta, 2012, co-authored with Rosetta D’Angelo) as well as numerous articles on modern Italian literature and culture in national and international journals (among others, Italica, Annali d’Italianistica, Quaderni d’italianistica, Italian Culture, Rivista di studi italiani and Leggendaria).
Her recent interests focus on two areas: Futurism and Fascism and representations of WWII in Italy, with particular emphasis on the images of women in individual and collective memory. She collaborated with Catherine Paul on two substantial publications related to the first area: “Margherita Sarfatti and the Italian Cultural Nationalism,” an annotated translation of six essays on art by Margherita Sarfatti, published during the 1920’s in the Fascist newspaper Il popolo d’Italia (Modernism/modernity, vol.13, January 2006, The John Hopkins University Press, 143-170) and “Venezia Passatista? Luigi De Giudici and a Broader Futurism” in Visual Resources. An International Journal of Documentation, Routledge, UK, vol. XXVI, no. 4, December 2010, (331-368). Dr. Zaczek’s research in the second area resulted not only in academic publications but led to a series of invited lectures in American universities, as well as Casa della memoria e della storia in Rome (2009), and participation in “III Giornata di studio Leggendaria” dedicated to Luce d’Eramo, an Italian writer and literary critic (March 1-2, 2013, Rome) and in an international conference “Luce d’Eramo, Une oeuvre plurielle à la croisée des saviors e des cultures,” organized by the University of La Sapienza and Universitè Sorbonne Nouvelle 3 (June 15-17, Paris). She assisted the Italian journalist and writer, Oriana Fallaci, with research on the Polish-Italian collaboration in the fight for independence in the 19th century for her novel Il cappello pieno di ciliege (Milan: Rizzoli, 2008). In 2011, Cristina de Stefano, who had been commissioned by Rizzoli to write the first authorized biography of Fallaci, interviewed Dr. Zaczek and thanked her in the Acknowledgements (Oriana, Una donna, Milan: Rizzoli, 2013, 300). A handwritten letter to Dr. Zaczek under a heading “Disgrazia delle disgrazie, non posso parlare” appeared in a collection of 120 letters written by Fallaci to various correspondents (La paura è un peccato. Lettere da una vita straordinaria, Milan: Rizzoli, 2016, 285-286).
Welcome! Bienvenue! Bienvenid@s! Benvenuti! Bem-vindos!
We always want to hear your stories! Please send us your news, and tell us about your activities in our Department Newsletter or on this website. Check out our new section My mentor…
My name is Nicoletta Pazzaglia and I am a former student at the University of Oregon. I received my Ph.D in Romance Languages in December 2014 with a dissertation titled Madness Apparatus: Gender Politics, Art and the Asylum in Fin-de- Siècle Italy. I am currently a second year Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian at Miami University in Oxford OH.
My time at the University of Oregon has been crucial for my personal and professional growth. I am grateful I had the opportunity to study in such a vibrant department and to work closely to my advisors, Professors Nathalie Hester and Massimo Lollini as well Professor Regina Psaki. I am also particularly thankful for the professional training in second language acquisition that I received at UO and for the unique opportunity I had to teach a variety of Italian courses.
At Miami University, I am currently directing the Summer Study-Abroad Program “Intensive Italian in Urbino, Italy” for the Department of French and Italian. With a colleague we are developing the workshop into a program that brings together language learning and cultural competence building. As far as my research is concerned, I am co-editing a volume tentatively titled Photography as Power in Italy to be published through Cambridge Scholar Publishing in 2017. This book explores how photography–as material object and social agent– has been employed to support and/or resist hegemonic discourses from the Risorgimento to the Berlusconi era.
Studying abroad may be one of the most beneficial experiences for a student learning foreign languages, not only for the opportunity to study in a foreign nation and take in the allure and culture of a new land, but also to find new ways of thinking. Find below the stories of three students who went abroad this summer to improve their Portuguese skills.
“I visited Lisbon Portugal during the month of August to take Portuguese language classes at the Instituto de Cultura e Lingua Portuguesa, which is at the University of Lisbon and to conduct interviews for my dissertation. During my trip, I visited many historical landmarks and enjoyed Portugal’s delicious food. Some of the places I visited wereBaixa Chiado, the Castelo de São Jorge, Belem Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, and the town of Cascais.” — Kevin O’Hare, Ph.D Candidate, Political Science
“Getting to go to Rio for the 2016 Olympics was an amazing opportunity. I got to see some of the best athletes from all over the world, come together and compete for the gold medal. This wasn’t my main reason for going on the trip. It was to help the people and Favelas of Rio. Thank you so much to the L.I.V.E. Olympic Project Community Collaborations International organization for bringing all of the volunteers and amazing people together to help the kids and the families in the favela of Manguinhos in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.” — Robert Catlett ’19, Romance Languages
“I spent this summer in Lisbon, Portugal, to learn Portuguese. It was a fantastic experience to have, and I think that Portugal is a very overlooked country with amazing people and a rich history and culture! Photo of me in a Knights Templar Cathedral.” –Isabela Crocker ’18, Romance Languages