The Modern Linguist

A View from Abroad

Heidi and Alissa are two students who are currently studying abroad with the CEDEI program. Read their reflections about their experience below.

Heidi Zibarth poses with a monkey on her shoulder.

Heidi Zibarth '21

When I was picking out universities as a high school senior, one of the most important aspects to me was a study abroad program. I grew up in a small town in Indiana where my dad worked as a professor and director of various programs at the local college. Therefore, I was always hanging out around campus, and one of the most important things I learned was that when I went to college, I HAD to pick one with a good study abroad program. I was good at languages from a young age, and comfortable in cross-cultural situations, most of my friends growing up were Hispanic and African American. By the time I got to university, I knew exactly what I wanted to study, Spanish and teaching English as a second language.

Now I am here in Cuenca, Ecuador, finishing my time studying abroad! Alissa Garcia and I are the first ones to participate in the study abroad program at CEDEI (Centers for Interamerican Studies) through Whitworth. In our study abroad group, there are eight of us from all around the U.S. We are often the only students in our classes, which definitely gives a one-on-one feel. We had the option to take classes in English and Spanish, and they have the semester split up into two quarters, taking 2-3 classes each time. Each one of our classes are two hours long, which helped my Spanish improve quicker since I was immersed for a longer amount of time in one subject. CEDEI also has mandatory dance, cooking, and ceramics classes with weekly “charlas” about different subjects in Ecuador.

A group of students poses in front of an ornate building in Ecuador

One of the reasons this program is AMAZING is the fact that we do so much traveling, so I am able to see more than just the city I am staying in. The first week of the program we traveled to Quito (the capital), Otavalo (largest handicraft market in Ecuador), and Tena, on the Napo River in the Amazon Rainforest. Throughout the semester, we traveled to other indigenous towns close by, like Saraguro and Chordeleg. We also visited some Incan ruins at Ingapirca and Pumapungo, and Cajas National Park. For Fall Break, we visited the Galapagos Islands, which were incredible and something I will never forget. In addition, for our very last trip in South America, we are traveling to Peru to visit Cuzco and, most importantly, Macchu Piccu (which I am super excited about).

Heidi Zibarth stands on a grassy cliff. She faces a body of water and small hills on a foggy day.

Cuenca is one of the oldest cities in Ecuador, which means that it has many beautiful, old buildings and churches. Cuenca is within the Andes mountain range, so although it is on the equator, it is definitely not shorts weather (which surprised me). The city is split into two main “districts”, the historic and the new. I live in the historic district with my host family. Living with a host family was something crucial for me when I studied abroad, and it has been incredible. I have been able to practice my Spanish in a space where I feel comfortable, and I have been able to learn more about the culture than I would have staying in a dorm. Although there are not many people in my study abroad program, CEDEI gave lots of ways to be involved within the city (there are city-wide Zumba classes in the parks every Thursday night!) and make new friends. I have made so many more friends than I ever would have thought, and they’re not only from the U.S. and Ecuador, but from Venezuela and Colombia as well. In this way, I have been able to see and hear about not just Ecuador’s culture and way of speaking, but two other Latin American countries as well.

My experience in Ecuador has been incredible. I was able to experience a new language and culture, meet new friends, and make memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Alissa Garcia '21

Alissa Garcia poses with a friend in front of the 0 latitude marker in Ecuador

My study abroad experience in Ecuador has been nothing but amazing. My first week in Ecuador was all about orientation, well I don’t know if you would call it orientation. It was more like a vacation to start out with. I arrived in Quito and then went to Otavalo where you can find a market full of different handmade objects. After visiting Otavalo, we stopped at Mitad del Mundo, which is the middle of the world, or the equator. It was so weird thinking, “I’m standing on the equator in Ecuador.” There we learned mind-blowing information about earth that we are not taught. Our next stop, we had a city tour of Quito where we visited the Basilica, which was absolutely beautiful. From there, we were on our way to the Amazon jungle, where we spent four days. The Amazon jungle was incredible. We went on a hike through the jungle that lead to a waterfall where we went swimming. On our way back, we floated down the Napo River. The next day, we visited a tribe that lives in the jungle and got to learn about their culture. The following day we went to an island that has monkeys running around! They were everywhere! We even got to have one hang on us! The time in the Amazon jungle was an experience I’ll never forget. From there, we were off to Cuenca where we would begin school and meet our host families.

A group of llamas graze on a grassy cliff.

Once we arrived to Cuenca I could feel the nerves setting in, this was going to be my temporary home. It was so weird meeting my host family and going home with them. I am now living with strangers in a completely new culture. It was a struggle for me to adapt to living in someone else’s home. I found myself struggling the first month because I didn’t realize how much Spanish I really didn’t know. I felt like I knew nothing, and the classes were not what I am used to. In some classes you were the only student, it was just you and the professor for two hours a day, every day. After a couple weeks, everything became a daily routine. Almost every weekend we had a weekend trip to learn more about the country and culture. We visited ancient Incan ruins and visited an indigenous pueblo called Saraguro. To top it off, we spent fall break in the Galapagos Islands! It was so surreal being somewhere so beautiful that you never imagined visiting. We went snorkeling in the ocean and swam with sealions. I’ll also never forget playing in the waves on Tortuga Bay, which is in my opinion the most beautiful beach. Our adventures didn’t end there. At the end of the program, we spent a week in Peru and went to Machu Picchu, another surreal moment.

Alissa Garcia poses with a friend at a soccer match in South America. Behind them is the field.

This whole experience has been so amazing and gave me opportunities I never thought I would have. I have memories that will last a lifetime, and the best part of it is that I get to share it with someone who came with me on this adventure and I can now call my best friend. It hasn’t been easy being away from family and friends and adapting to a new culture, but I have made so many new friends through this program, and I now have a family in Ecuador. Cuenca is a beautiful city with beautiful people. Everyday abroad is a new adventure. There is so much to see and do with only three months to soak it in. I have grown as a person and learned so much more about a different part of the world while studying towards my degree. I can honestly say I left a piece of my heart in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Eye on Alumni

Katherine Smith '15

Katherine is reaching out to see if there is any interest from students for a Spring Break or May Term trip with Whitworth students to the Arizona, Mexico border.

In 2016-2017, I volunteered with Mennonite Central Committee in Santiago Atitlan, Solola, Guatemala for one year, and then from there moved to Tucson, Arizona to do a service year again through MCC as the site and volunteer coordinator at Casa Alitas, a shelter for migrants seeking asylum in the U.S.

Since this past September, I have been working full time for West Coast MCC as the border and migration outreach coordinator, and part of my job entails leading groups on learning delegations to the border.

I wanted to reach out to you, as I think this would be a great opportunity for Whitworth students to learn a little more firsthand about immigration and the border. The learning tours are designed to bring awareness about the increasing migrant deaths, militarization, environmental degradation, effects on habitat, and effects on sister communities by the border wall along the Mexico/U.S. borderlands. Participants will increase their understanding and knowledge of the social, economic, political and theological significance of migration in border communities, including advocacy tools and capacity building to engage others on borderlands and migration issues.

This would be great for Spanish learners as well, and I believe could spark areas of interest for future engagement!

If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Ann Penfield

Live Labs

Live labs are an integral aspect of the World Languages & Cultures Department, a time to immerse oneself in the target language led by a peer. Live labs are a requirement for 200 and 300 level classes for Spanish, French and German. This valuable time is both an opportunity for students enrolled in the live lab and their leaders to learn and practice skills and learn from one another in another language. Here are three students’ thoughts on live labs:

A student enrolled in a German live lab Elizabeth Haley ‘22 finds the hour-long immersion helpful because her live lab leader is also a student of the language and is familiar with the concepts students at her level may need extra practice with.

Prisca Tshibangu ‘22, a French live lab leader, likes to use songs and games to help students with their French. Many times, she will print out the song lyrics and leave parts blank so students can interact with the lyrics. She found out about the job because she grew up speaking French. Prisca reflects, “When I heard about French live labs I got interested, I know that this is an English school, so it grabbed my attention to have interaction with others in French.” The highlight of the lab for Prisca is having that time to interact with students in French, but sometimes it is difficult to figure out what to do each week.

A student in a Spanish live lab Alex Mowery ‘20 reflects, “Learning things like songs, or tongue twisters, help us engage with the language on a more fundamental, cultural level, rather than just translating my English experience into Spanish. Live lab helps me understand how language impacts culture.”

Live labs are an important part of learning a language here at Whitworth

Full quote Alex: “In our live-lab we do activities, games discussions that help us engage in the langue in a more popular kind of way. Learning things like songs, or like tongue twisters, help us engage with the language in a more fundamental cultural level, rather than just translating my English experience into Spanish. Live lab help me understand how language impacts culture.”

Verse of the Month

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremías 29:11

11 Porque yo sé muy bien los planes que tengo para ustedes —afirma el Señor—, planes de bienestar y no de calamidad, a fin de darles un futuro y una esperanza.

Jérémie 29:11

11 Car je connais les projets que j'ai formés sur vous, dit l'Eternel, projets de paix et non de malheur, afin de vous donner un avenir et de l'espérance.

Jeremia 29:11

11 Denn ich weiß ja die Gedanken, die ich über euch denke, spricht Jehova, Gedanken des Friedens und nicht zum Unglück, um euch Ausgang und Hoffnung zu gewähren.

エレミヤ書 29:13

13 あなたがたはわたしを尋ね求めて、わたしに会う。もしあなたがたが一心にわたしを尋ね求めるならば、

耶利米书 29:11

11 耶 和 华 说 : 我 知 道 我 向 你 们 所 怀 的 意 念 是 赐 平 安 的 意 念 , 不 是 降 灾 祸 的 意 念 , 要 叫 你 们 末 後 有 指 望 。

Vol. 25 Issue 2 December 2018

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