Thanks to the COVID-19 crisis, this academic year came to an end with a bang! In March and April, professors and students alike scrambled to teach and learn in new ways, even as staff members adapted to working remotely. In the midst of this very stressful period, I’ve been truly amazed with how our entire department has worked tirelessly and with good humor to teach our courses using distance technologies and to support our students.
After working quickly to adapt the syllabi for our multi-section language-level courses (SPAN 1101-1103 and 2202; PORT 1101-1103) that had been meeting face-to-face, the Language Program leadership team held weekly “live-line” sessions via Zoom to help our associated faculty members and graduate-teaching assistants to transition to teaching online. Many of the instructors themselves went above and beyond to hold synchronous Zoom-classes to allow students to communicate spontaneously in the target language on an on-going basis. Faculty members teaching upper-level courses for undergraduates as well as graduate seminars held synchronous classes when possible, while utilizing asynchronous discussion boards and other on-line tools to offer students the means to meet their course goals in alternate ways. We all learned a great deal… and very quickly.
Within that context, it seems fitting to launch our latest newsletter which recognizes several unique individuals who are part of our diverse department --from Ally Goldman (a recent alum who has been working in Spain) to Ms. Elvia Andía Grágeda (an associated faculty member and the course coordinator for our Quechua language sequence) to Dr. Elizabeth Davis (an Associate Professor of Iberian Studies). The newsletter also includes an interview with Blake Shiplett, a 4th-year Spanish major and President of the Spanish and Portuguese Club, who talks about the club’s activities and its role in fostering a sense of community among undergraduates beyond the classroom. Finally, a feature article showcases the amazing series of activities that took place in Autumn 2019 related to Andean and Amazon Studies, an area of particular strength in our department.