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TEC Student of the Month Award

August 2014 - Laurel Schaffer

With a  sparkle in her eye and all but permanent smile, Laurel’s kind and inclusive nature helps create a positive and comfortable atmosphere in any class she joins. Passionate about her Spanish studies, she is motivated both by the desire to be able to communicate with her Spanish-speaking patients as a nurse and by her fascination with Latin American, and particularly Mexican, culture and dream of living abroad. Having learned Italian fluently before beginning to learn Spanish, her quick progress demonstrates how useful knowledge of other languages is in studying Spanish. With her great sense of humor and can-do attitude, Laurel reminds us that being willing to speak imperfectly and enjoy the learning process are key to achieving success.

July 2014 - Calista Christensen

Steadfast in her commitment to studying Spanish and continuously attending classes, one might say Calista's passion for food is interwoven with her passion for the Spanish language and Latin American culture. In her workplace at a popular Mexican restaurant in Portland, she draws on her Spanish skills to get to know her Spanish-speaking co-workers and engage customers in foodie conversation. She is also an avid cook and community gardener, eager to learn to prepare delicacies from south of the border. Her authentic curiosity and desire to deeply understand Latino culture has resulted in her leading a life surrounded by Spanish-speakers, and she looks forward to future travel and further immersion. Aided by her easy-going attitude and unwavering persistence, Calista is on the road towards fluency and we are delighted to count her as part of our community at Tierra.

June 2014 - Emmy Ivarsson

Hailing from Sweden, though you’d never guess it as she speaks perfect English, Emmy has taken on the task to achieve comparable mastery of the Spanish language with gusto. An immigration lawyer, her determination to put her professional skills to use and help Spanish-speaking immigrants in Portland navigate the legal process has motivated her focused dedication to learning the language. She’s advanced with impressive speed, recently testing out of several course levels after a month long immersion trip to Mexico during which she took classes and enjoyed practicing with locals. Cheerful and optimistic, Emmy emanates positive energy and is a model of how a second (or third) language can be acquired rapidly when one is truly committed to that goal. We congratulate her on her success thus far and for the important work she does with the local immigrant community.

May 2014 - Kate English

An enthusiastic and focused student with an ever-growing passion for Spanish and Latin America, Kate sets the bar high for her own achievement goals and takes advantage of class time to the fullest. For her, learning Spanish is a family effort as both of her children also study Spanish and share with their mother an appreciation of cultural immersion and desire to volunteer and make a positive difference at home and during trips abroad. Of late, they’ve been busy preparing for their trip to Nicaragua this summer which will include Spanish study and community service work.  Kate has also included her children in her experience at Tierra,  frequently participating together in our community fiesta events and enrolling her daughter in Spanish classes. Kate’s example of whole-family education and involvement in community-building and social change is a true inspiration and wonderful illustration of the doors language study can open.


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