I graduated from SU with a BA in Spanish and French in 2011. As an undergraduate, I studied abroad in Granada, Spain and became curious about the history of the city. My senior year at SU, I took two courses with Dr. Earenfight on medieval Spain. The opportunity to combine my language studies with the history of a place that I had grown to love sparked interests that I’ve been chasing ever since.
After graduating, I worked for a year as an English language instructor in Seattle. Yet, I couldn’t set aside the desire to continue my studies in Spanish and Spanish history, so I enrolled in a master’s program that focused on the history of the Muslim and Jewish populations in medieval Iberia at the Universidad de Granada. But one year in Spain wasn’t enough. Pursuing interests in translation that Victor Reinking had encouraged in his French courses, I completed a MA in Translation at the Universidad de Zaragoza.
Six years after my time in Spain, I am now a PhD candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University. For me, one of the best things about working on a PhD is the opportunities that it provides for travel. Over the last five years, my studies have brought me to Morocco for Arabic immersion courses, as well to France, Mexico, and Spain to work in archives! In the next year, I will be completing dissertation research in Mexico, the Philippines, and Spain with generous support from a Fulbright-Hays award. My project analyzes textual representations of Muslims and converts from Islam (moriscos) across the Spanish Empire (c. 1500 - c. 1700) with a focus on the regions surrounding present-day Granada, Mexico City, Manila, and Mindanao. After finishing my dissertation, I look forward to working as a Spanish professor at a university that prioritizes unique, engaging coursework and offers rewarding study abroad experiences. Ultimately, my goal is to help students create deep connections with their languages of study—connections that expand and create new opportunities as students integrate their language skills with their goals, strengths, and curiosities.
Congrats to the 2019 Michels Award winner in French. Austin presented her International Studies honors capstone project to a FREN 4630 class. Next year, Austin will be living in France, working as an English teaching assistant at a middle school in Toulouse, through the TAPIF program.
My experience with the Arabic program transcends that of just learning a language. I have learned to not only appreciate diversity, but to embrace it. And I have learned that even though people look different and cultural practices may vary, kindness can be found in every corner of the world.
Studying the Italian language at Seattle University was an enjoyable experience and a wonderful introduction to the culture. These Italian courses helped me a great deal when I studied abroad in Italy and gave me the necessary foundational knowledge to succeed there. While living in Turin, I was able to communicate with locals and practice my language skills and now I can speak Italian proficiently. Italian is a beautiful language and I loved studying it here at Seattle University. I would recommend our Italian language program to anyone looking to learn a language and have fun while doing so.
Congrats to the 2019 Michels Award winner in French. Next year Alexis will be working in Seattle at a crisis hotline in order to gain some clinical experience for psychology before pursuing a graduate degree in psychology in Los Angeles the following year.
Studying Japanese has changed my life, leading to experiences and adventures I had never dreamed of before. What started out as more of a hobby than anything turned into a growing interest and passion for Japanese language and culture.
Through the classes, I have not only learned about the vocabulary, structures, and syntax of the language, but also, I gained a greater understanding of history, philosophy, poetry, and geography, among many other disciplines.
There is so much more to experience, learn and enjoy as I continued to build upon the foundational aspects of not only the Italian language, but the in-depth culture I was exposed to this year. Furthermore, I wanted to shine a special light on the man who has inspired and prompted me to discover further one of my true passions, which is my love of the Italian culture! As I continue to refine my skills day after day, it is evident Professore Giuseppe Tassone has been the most instrumental teacher I have ever had, and has continued to equip me with tools to open up the world of Italian to me on a much more expansive scale than I ever imagined was capable!
Going into the Arabic language from a blank slate may seem like a daunting task, but it truly is no more difficult than studying any other foreign language, do not let your preconceptions be a barrier. It is my firm belief that a university that hopes to train global scholars such as Seattle University must have a strong and diverse set of language programs, centered around critical languages like Arabic.
Studying the rich and enlightening language of Arabic at Seattle University has opened my mind and heart in more ways than I can. Each letter in the Arabic alphabet has a significant meaning behind it so when put together to create a word, the message is all that more profound.
Because of Arabic, I have had the chance to meet some incredible people. Not only have I made some of my best friends from our Arabic cohort, but also, I have connected with total strangers through this language.Learning Arabic changed the course of my life, and it has unlocked so many opportunities for me.
I initially signed up for the class out of curiosity, yet two years later I would be finishing up my minor in Arabic and would eventually get the opportunity to travel to Oman to attend an Arabic language institute. Overall, I can say that I came out of the experience a more creative and resilient student.
Earning a Chinese minor at SU not only taught me a second language, it expanded my perspective on our global world. From music to menus, the ability to understand and speak Chinese has helped build my knowledge of cultures different from my own. Attaining this minor is only one stop on the road to true fluency, and I have been inspired by my studies to one day live in China to further learn and explore this beautiful language.
Learning the basic skill to converse in our daily life was fun, but memorizing characters in Mandarin when it comes to reading and writing was a burden for me at first. However, the more I learn and immerse myself in the world of Mandarin, the more I found those characters are fascinating in their own way. Each character/radical has its own story and distinct association with the Chinese’s life. As I want to learn more about the Chinese culture, reading and writing was no longer a burden for me, especially when I can learn such beautiful and appealing behind-the-scene story of the characters and how it directly reflects the people’s life. This experience of taking Mandarin classes at SU has fully aided my personal development as I learn and understand more about Chinese culture.
Prior to coming to SU, I had taken German and Spanish language classes, however I have always wanted to learn an Asian language. I hope to have a future career in the FBI and being able to speak a foreign language will help me in that application process. I specifically picked Chinese because I thought it would be very interesting and completely different from what I have been exposed to in the past. Naturally, I was very nervous about learning Chinese given that I have never studied a character or a tonal based language, but after the first week of class, all of that stress melted away. The two Chinese professors I have taken classes from, Professor Feng and Professor Qian, teach the language so well and made sure that the class understood each concept, while making the environment fun.
Studying Mandarin Chinese at Seattle University taught me valuable life skills, and I am so happy I chose to minor in it! My name is Elena Chen Pendleton and I am currently a middle school teacher in Hawai’i. I originally took Mandarin because it is my mother’s first language, and I wanted to learn more so that I could speak it with her and my relatives in Taiwan. The professors were very encouraging and my classmates were friendly and helpful. The courses taught me important skills in Mandarin such as listening, speaking, reading and writing and I learned useful vocabulary I can use in the real world. You do not need to have any background in the language at all in order to minor in it! Studying a language taught me better study skills, organization tactics and time management.
Learning Chinese has led to deep personal reflection of how my words, down to word ordering and tenses, impacts what I am saying, verbally and internally. When I studied linguistics in my history capstone, being able to relate our studies to Chinese made me ponder how accurate (or not) those theories were. When I write poetry, my inquiries about the possibilities and limitations for making meaning in English are informed by Chinese sentence structures. While working in the field of AI equity and technology policy, Chinese challenges me to think about how the dominance of English language is impacting technologies that are supposed to be meant for everyone. I’m thankful to Feng Laoshi for being a great professor throughout my time learning Chinese at SU!
Growing up I had many ambitions, but for someone who had no previous knowledge of the Chinese culture or language it seemed unthinkable for me to move abroad. That’s exactly what I did, following my graduation in 2007 I packed up and moved to pursue my graduate studies in Beijing, China. I was able to build a solid foundation with the support from my professors as well as the tools and resources that the SU Modern Languages Department provided me. I went on to pursue an International MBA from Tsinghua University in Beijing. From there, I went on to build a career in Sports Marketing which I still do to this day. I credit all of my experiences at Seattle University and throughout China for directly affecting the opportunities and life experiences that have blessed me since graduation.
My passion for learning Spanish began in middle school and grew exponentially during my time in college. I can honestly say that studying abroad with the Latin American Studies Program (LASP) in Puebla Mexico changed me for the better forever. And I’m so grateful for how easy it was to double major and make study abroad a reality! The LASP program ignited a spark and curiosity to explore the world and learn from different perspectives. During those transformative six months, my Spanish improved drastically due to being fully immersed in a host family setting and navigating a new country and language. Important skills from this experience that I have carried forward with me (without realizing it) are: research skills, adaptability to new settings, cultural humility, and pursuit of passion.
When I first began my time at Seattle University, I knew that I would study Spanish. Prior to my time in the University I had studied Spanish for a cumulative 7 years, but I had not yet achieved anything close to fluency. The Spanish major at Seattle U really changed that for me. I spent four years doing my best to grasp at something that would be close to fluency. The caring and familial nature of the Spanish department allowed me to grow. Of course, this started with basic Spanish courses that covered simple grammar, but eventually I found myself going abroad to expand my skills. I spent six months abroad in Puebla, Mexico. After going abroad I was communicating on a level that I had never dreamed of before. This skill stayed with me through my professional career as well.