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September 25, 2009

ULM spanish alumni awarded assistantships to teach in Spain

The Ministry of Education of Spain awarded teaching assistantships to two recent graduates of the ULM Department of Foreign Languages, Michelle Roberson of Farmerville, La., and Becky Buchanan of Arizona.

Roberson and Buchanan will arrive in Spain on Oct. 1 and remain through May, working with local schools and enjoying the same schedule as the teachers in Spain.

Roberson graduated from ULM in Fall 2007 with a degree in Spanish. She said she had such a positive experience in La Rioja, Spain, over the past year that she re-applied for the grant and will soon begin her second year of teaching, this time on the island of Mallorca.

“It was a wonderful experience that I just couldn’t resist and do it all over again, but this time in another region of Spain,” said Roberson. While working to improve her own language skills, Roberson taught culture classes to children age’s six to 10.

“Working with kids that knew no English forced me to use what I learned here in the classroom. I definitely feel that my Spanish has greatly improved,” she said.

Roberson’s experience abroad included the opportunity to travel to several European countries. Comparing life in her own hometown of Farmerville with that of La Rioja, a small city in the northern region of Spain known for its winemaking, she said, “I thought the life would be similar, and although it was in some ways, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how different people were; everyone was friendly and open to not only teach me their culture, but also learn from my own.”

Buchanan, also a Spanish major, graduated this past spring and was named by the Department of Foreign Languages as the Outstanding Spanish Senior. She became interested in living in Spain after travelling there in 2007 with a study abroad program sponsored by the ULM Department of Foreign Languages.

“For the last five years I have known what to expect when school started, and now I have no idea,” said Buchanan. “I am nervous, excited and happy to start something new while learning a different culture. Although I will miss my family and friends, I cannot wait to meet other people and learn more about their culture.”

Buchanan feels that all her knowledge started in the classroom: “My classes prepared me a great deal; they gave me the foundation for the two weeks in Spain, and they wakened my interest in Hispanic culture.”

Buchanan hopes that she will be able share with the students in Spain her own interest in and enthusiasm for learning about other cultures. As she puts it, “I really want to be able to show my students my own culture, I am taking recipes, fun facts and pictures from Arizona, Louisiana, New York, Hawaii and California to illustrate my culture.”

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