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April 2017 - Vanora St. Clair

With a genuine love of learning for learning’s sake, Vanora’s delight in studying Spanish readily spreads to those in her presence. A former psychology teacher, she is now a mindfulness meditation instructor. Her dedication to cultivating mindfulness manifests itself in her interactions at Tierra, where she is an especially kind and compassionate classmate, and a role-model who maintains a profoundly positive attitude throughout the process of building language skills. Growing up in Hawaii, Japan, and the East and West coasts of the U.S. fostered a respect for diverse cultures within her, and she became an adventurous spirit who has enjoyed travels near and far. An avid reader, explorer of the great outdoors, and dog-lover, Vanora’s taken on her new passion for the Spanish language and cultural world with zest, and we are grateful to have her as a valued member of our community!


Name:  Vanora St. Clair
Occupation:  Mindfulness Meditation Instructor
Time Studying at Tierra:  Nearly two years

1) Why are you studying Spanish?

"Recently I read about a writer who studied Italian just because she loves the language.  That's how I feel about Spanish!  I also enjoy how learning a language is a great introduction to Spanish-speaking cultures."

2) What is your favorite part about your experience here at Tierra?

"My favorite part about studying Spanish at Tierra is the community at Tierra.  All of my teachers, Laura, Michelle, Cecy and Manya, have been friendly, engaging and encouraging.  I have discovered at Tierra that people who study languages tend to be curious, adventurous and open-minded and I have enjoyed making many new friends."

3) Can you tell us of a time you have been able to use what you have learned studying here?

"Several months ago, I was on a flight to Los Angeles.  A middle-aged Hispanic man approached the flight attendant at the front of the plane and she directed him to be seated.  After a few minutes, he returned, shaking uncontrollably and sweating profusely.  The flight attendant requested medical assistance over the intercom and two physicians arrived.  As I was seated in the first row, I watched as they took his blood pressure and discussed his symptoms.  Although the man did not speak English, one of the passengers spoke with the man who said he had just been discharged from the hospital.  For the most part, he sat huddled on a flight attendant's seat while the doctors and flight attendants discussed the situation.  Apparently it was too late to divert the flight so they would monitor him the rest of the way as his blood pressure was dangerously high.

As a former psychology teacher and meditation instructor, I offered to assist during the flight. The flight attendants moved him to the adjoining seat and also seated a bilingual passenger across the aisle from me.  He was delirious and rocking back and forth.  Throughout the rest of the flight I listened (occasionally asking the Spanish speaker to help) as he talked about his fears as he seemed to think he was dying.  Although at first I had tried calming techniques, I finally just listened and responded to his fears.
After awhile, he stopped shaking and sweating and seemed considerably calmer.  I was so grateful that I was able to be there for him and that I had learned enough Spanish to converse with him.  When we landed, the paramedics arrived and I breathed a sigh of relief."

¡Felicidades Vanora!