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TEC Student of the Month Award

October 2014 - Tanya Luken

With a joyful attitude and buckets full of motivation, Tanya has taken on learning Spanish like there’s no tomorrow. Committed to joining a program in the Peace Corps in which she will train people in a Spanish-speaking country to become business owners, Tanya’s passion for service and empowerment  inspires her dedication to learning the language. Having started out in Beginner 1 this past spring, she has breezed through our entire Beginner series by taking the intensive, twice weekly classes and is graduating to “intermediate” material this fall. Eager to practice in any way she can, she’s been speaking in Spanish with her friends and family (even the ones who don’t speak Spanish!) and taking every opportunity to use her newly acquired skills. It’s clear that with such drive, Tanya will reach great heights and we wish her the best of luck in her continued studies and future volunteer work.

September 2014 - Aaron Bini & Ellen Mickle

Committed  to learning Spanish and to learning it together, Ellen and Aaron studying side by side for many months merited a double recognition. Sharing a passion for organic and sustainable agriculture, they are driven to expand their Spanish skills to be able to communicate with Spanish-speakers in their fields of fair trade and farming. In fact, they began learning Spanish while volunteering on a farm in Colombia, and the dream of travelling abroad again is the other spark that keeps them motivated. They are hard-working students who support each other in their successes and hurdles and are on the path to achieving their ambitious learning goals. Genuine and kind, through their example Ellen and Aaron inspire us to live by our ideals and pursue our goals with joyful determination.

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.

April 2014 - Joshua Strickland

With a hearty laugh and humourous take on life (and learning Spanish), Joshua’s presence adds vitality and a sense of playfulness to any class he joins. His ambition to understand his wife’s native language and culture as deeply as possible has provided the impetus behind Joshua’s unwavering resolve to achieve fluency in Spanish, giving him the stamina to overcome the inevitable plateaus in language acquisition in order to reach new periods of tangible progress and refinement. Instinctively friendly and sociable, he thrives in Tierra’s small-group setting, forming meaningful relationships with classmates and integrating the class interaction and energy into his learning process. His spirit of fun and genuine eagerness to learn make Joshua an excellent example of how attitude contributes to success in attaining language skills and we look forward to continuing to watch him accomplish his goals!

March 2014 - Ann Parsons

Ann ParsonsPossessing a infectiously sunny attitude, Ann approaches perfecting her Spanish skills with inexhaustible determination and curiosity. Her story is an inspiring one: after a decades-long career as a successful engineer, she decided she wanted to shift gears and do something that would give back to the community and particularly help Spanish-speaking youth. She chose the field of education and this year has been learning the ropes of public schooling as a tutor in math and science for students who are not native English-speakers. Open and honest, Ann’s willingness to share anecdotes and opinions in the name of Spanish practice contribute to making class a deeper and more enriching experience for all. We honor Ann and people like her who feel so called to a particular mission that they take risks and make sacrifices to make it happen.


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