In November 2021, Seattle University students enrolled in first-year Spanish courses had the opportunity to virtually meet with students in Ecuador to improve their Spanish-language skills while engaging in intercultural dialogues. This activity was made possible as part of the dual language immersion program offered by the Association of Universities Entrusted to the Society of Jesus in Latin America (AUSJAL).
More than 30 Jesuit universities across the United States and Latin America participate in this program. This was Seattle University’s first time participating in the program, and the activity was coordinated through the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures.
Comments from the students include:
“I really liked learning about another culture. I also liked how we helped out with words that we may not have understood.”
“I really enjoyed just being able to talk to someone who is living in another country and talk about what we like to do, eat, etc. I felt so comfortable with my partner and I had a lot of fun […] It was also to be able to say to myself, wow I can actually hold a conversation a bit and understand her for the most part.”
“I am a little more interested in studying abroad after doing this activity. It made me feel more comfortable with speaking with native speakers. At first, I was nervous because I wasn't sure that I would know how to say everything that I wanted to communicate, but after a while, I found that I was more comfortable and confident. I also became less afraid to make mistakes.”
Also, Dr. Serena Cosgrove (Latin American and International Studies, Central America Initiative) represented SU in a Virtual Dual Immersion (VDI) webinar on the Martyrs of the Universidad Centroamericana, El Salvador. This was part of the initial and fruitful partnership of the Spanish section of Modern Languages and Cultures with AUSJAL, and with the aim of interdisciplinary collaboration between departments within our institution and with universities in Latin America. More than a hundred participants from various universities across the Americas attended this presentation.
These two events are the beginning of a series of activities that will bring closer members of diverse academic communities across Jesuit Universities in the US and Latin America with the purpose to keep on nurturing intercultural exchanges and understanding.