Byon April 1, 2014 6:24 PM
During my time working with the Center for Global studies, I have been able to observe as well as help with the Center’s efforts to promote the teaching (and learning!) of less commonly taught languages. As a Spanish major, I appreciate the value of learning a new language I have had many unique experiences as a result of my knowledge of Spanish, both during my semester abroad as well as in State College. In an increasingly interconnected and globalized world, the value of communication is immeasurable. Global studies provides valuable assets to students that they will only develop further as they venture out into the world as professionals. During my time at Penn State, I enrolled in one semester of Arabic on a whim– the class fit in my schedule and I wanted to try something different. Sitting down in class on my first day, I was surprised when I opened my textbook, which was bound on the right side as is typical of Arabic books. I had not fully imagined the complexity of learning a new language with a completely different alphabet. Memory tricks and study methods I have used for other classes were no use to me in this class and I realized I had to change my approach if I wanted to do well in the class. It was hard work, but was a unique experience and I enjoyed the challenge. Unfortunately, I was not able to take a second semester of the class, as Arabic 002 was not offered the following semester.
As part of my work in the Center for Global studies, I have helped research the programs for less commonly taught languages here at Penn State, at the Commonwealth campuses, as well as at other Big Ten universities. The languages include Arabic, Chinese, and Hindi. I learned that other universities, like Penn State, were working to develop their language programs and offer more courses or even degrees in these lesser taught languages. The Center for Global studies is essential to achieving this goal at Penn State, and it was encouraging to see other universities with similar goals. Because of these programs, students like me are able to develop new interests and overcome challenges as I did during my semester taking Arabic. The value of a second (or third or fourth!) language is an invaluable asset that opens the door to countless opportunities.
Growing up, I was enrolled in public school, but my school system had a unique two-way bilingual program that immersed me in a class that had half english speaking students and half students who spoke Spanish as their first language. Half of my school day would be taught in Spanish, and half in English, with an hour SSL or ESL session for respective students. It was a unique and rewarding experience, and fostered my appreciation for cultural experiences and the beauty of language. I have admired how the Center for Global Studies actively seeks to provide equally enriching opportunities to students at the university level. Personally, I feel I have been lucky to pursue both language and culture in my secondary education, and look forward to finding a professional position that allows me to both continue my education as well as share my knowledge with others.
As I look towards graduation with my job hunt well underway, I know my knowledge of Spanish as well as global studies makes me a competitive candidate for jobs in my field. Such experience indicates to employers an awareness and actual engagement with the global community, which has become essential in most fields as well as in day to day life.