The Modern Linguist

A View from Abroad

Cheyenne Scherf '19

Cheyenne poses in front of a scenic overlook. Behind her is a sprawling city.Hello! I am a senior Spanish and cross-cultural studies major currently in Cuenca, Ecuador. It is the third largest city in the country, one known for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, having a rich blend of French and Spanish architecture, and for the sing-song voices and unique slang of the people. An admitable struggle at first, I now have difficulty imagining a time when I will not use slang words or phrases on a daily basis, referring to something interesting or cool as "chévere" or allowing the person wanting to pass by me to go ahead with the contradictory "siga no más."

Cheyenne and a classmate pop their heads out of a train window. Behind them are rolling green hills.I have had the pleasure of experiencing all four of Ecuador's regions: el Oriente, la Costa, la Sierra y Galápagos, all beautiful and unique in their own right. My semester has consisted of taking classes on local indigenous culture, learning Andean history, improving my Spanish speaking skills, and volunteering in an institute for students with disabilities. Through my flexible classes and many travels, I have seen both touristy attractions and broken beyond the cultural iceberg to see the depth and richness of Ecuadorian culture and tradition. I have loved seeing so much of Ecuador's natural beauty with experiences in indigenous communities, visiting many local museums, trying local dishes (including guinea pig) and taking part in local and national celebrations.

Cheyenne and two classmates smile for a photo in front of a waterfall.The greatest parts of my exchange experience, however, have been my interactions with locals in the city center, at local markets and cafes, and making Cuencano friends. Being highly involved in a local church community and attending a young adult group on a weekly basis has completely transformed my study abroad experience. Not only have I made long lasting friends, but have gained deep roots and a wonderful support system during my time here.

With such hospitable, friendly and open people, it is easy to say that it has been encouraging and nurturing to be in a place like this. I have learned to embrace the uncomfortable and take the leap of faith to have those interactions. Because of this, my absolute best memories have come from slowing down to enjoy the pace of life as a local or having the courage to spark a conversation...speaking even when I didn't have it all together.

Eye on Alumni

Lauren Evers '18

Bonjour from Saint-Junien, France!

A stone building sits near a canal somewhere in France.Upon graduating from Whitworth last year, I accepted a position as an English assistant for middle school and high school students in the Limousin region of France. Here I work with students of all levels of English, helping them learn and practice speaking by playing games, leading activities, and hosting debates and discussions. During the week, I collaborate with teachers, helping them plan lessons and research materials to use in class. Overall, it has been a joy to get to know students and encourage them in their pursuit of language competency!

A choir rehearses standing in a circle.In my free time, I have the privilege to participate in two community choirs, with whom I sing, as well as share daily life. Despite most of the members being twice or three times my age, they have welcomed me as their "petite" and invited me into their homes, their pains and their joys. These relationships have enriched my love for and understanding of French culture — especially, but not exclusively, as it relates to cuisine — and have made me feel incredibly seen and loved.

A partially eaten apple tart sits on a countertop.The local church has been another community that has become like family. It is such a beautiful thing to worship together as the body of Christ and to know that, despite different backgrounds, ages and stories, we have all in common through the Spirit. In addition, in this unity I celebrate the diversity of the Church, as I learn so much from my French brothers and sisters who so devotedly give their time and priority to prayer. I have a richer and fuller understanding of who Jesus is because of my time among them! What a gift indeed.

Saint-Junien has become quite dear to me. Across the street from my apartment at the high school is a pasture where lambs graze and tenants plant their crops in the springtime. Wild adolescent motorcyclists can be heard when school is out in the afternoon, and on the weekends, grey-haired folk cradle their baguettes and tow their vegetables home after a trip to the market in the town center. It is true that life in the country is calm in comparison to the lively streets of Paris… but I have found that community can be found anywhere, if only we seek it out.

Faculty Spotlight

Interview with Professor Lindy Scott & Instructor Kim Hernandez

Professor Lindy Scott and Insructor Kim Hernandez pose side-by-side with their book.What is one thing that surprised you while gathering the stories for this book?

Lindy: It was a pleasant surprise to see how many alumni remembered certain events so vividly and identified them as moments that shaped the rest of their lives.

Kim: I was surprised, although perhaps more so amazed, by the detailed accounts of the alumni who participated in the program decades ago! As I read their reflections, I could sense how they relived those impactful moments in Central America as they wrote to us and, I'm sure, every time they think of the places and people that were part of their experience.

What was one of the challenges of compiling this book?

Lindy: Making sure that the chapters had accurate information when the sources we had were either incomplete or contradictory.

Kim: The biggest challenge was deciding what to include, or rather, how to come to terms with not being able to include everything that we gathered from all the decades of alumni and faculty involved in the program. The "value of story" is something I hold in highest regard as I prepare each new student cohort for CASP, and it is the stories I have been privileged to learn and gather in my own 12 years with CASP. These stories inspire and compel me to honor the impact that Central American communities and individuals have had on my own personal life and vocation.

The cover of Scott and Hernandez's book, Challenged & Changed: Living and Learning in Central America.</em>.What are your hopes for this book on campus and in the industry of study abroad?

Lindy: I hope that more students and faculty will become aware of this great opportunity to experience transformation in their lives and in the lives of others. For off campus, my hope is that other universities will learn from our experiences: the good, the not so good, and above all the presence and power of God. For our alumni: the verb "remember" is used over 230 times in scripture. We trust that our alumni will use the book to remember what God did in their lives years ago, which can continue to shape their lives today. As they share this book with family and friends, that others will grasp more clearly their experiences.

Kim: My greatest hope for this book is that it will allow many more people, at Whitworth and beyond, to hear the stories of the people and places that have welcomed our students and faculty into their realities for four decades. Without question, we have a responsibility to carry these stories that have been entrusted to us. It is a privilege and a blessing to live and work and learn in Central America. I hope that through these stories, our book can bring value, honor and respect to a region that too often is labeled "third world" or "less than."

In terms of the study abroad industry, I hope our book can be a tool to inspire other universities, especially those similar to Whitworth's faith-integrated mission, to create innovative programs that go beyond "academic tourism."

Verse of the Month

Proverbs 30:5

English: Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Spanish: Cada palabra de Dios es impecable; él es un escudo para los que se refugian en él.

French: Chaque parole de Dieu est sans faille; il est un bouclier pour ceux qui se réfugient en lui.

German: Jedes Wort Gottes ist fehlerlos. Er ist ein Schild für diejenigen, die sich in ihn flüchten.

Chinese: 上帝的每一句话都是无瑕的; 他是那些躲避他的人的盾牌。

Japanese: 神の言葉はすべて完璧です。彼は彼の中に避難する人々への盾です。

Vol. 25 Issue 5 April 2019

The Modern Linguist was birthed from the desire to unite those who study in the world languages discipline at Whitworth University. The newsletter features information, news and stories applicable to those involved in the program. Let it serve you well.

World Languages & Cultures Department
Westminster Hall
Whitworth University
Phone: 509.777.4765
Department Chair and Editor-in-Chief: Jennifer Brown
Editor: Ann Penfield
For student employment information, please contact Ann Penfield, program assistant, at 509.777.4765