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August 2015 - Mary Ellen Hamilton

With joyful determination, Mary Ellen has transformed herself into a Spanish speaker in just under two years! Having started out in our Beginner 1 course, her incredible drive has fueled her swift progress which is an inspiration to classmates and instructors alike. Her passion for learning is contagious, as is her kindness, generosity, and infinite patience, attributes which help to create a welcoming and supportive atmosphere in any class she joins. Since beginning her studies, she’s had the opportunity to travel to Spain and Mexico and to volunteer in Nicaragua, milking her experiences abroad to the fullest in her pursuit of authentic connection and deep cultural understanding. We are grateful for Mary Ellen’s continued dedication to her Spanish learning journey and look forward to continuing to watch her achieve her lofty goals.

Name: Mary Ellen Hamilton
Occupation: Retired
Time Studying at Tierra: 2 years

1) Why are you studying Spanish?

"In May 2013 I traveled to Spain for the first time, visiting Barcelona and the Basque
country. I was immediately “hooked” on Spain and knew that I wanted to return to see other areas of
that wonderful country.  I thought that my experience would be enriched by learning the Spanish
language so when I returned home I enrolled in the Beginner Spanish class at Tierra that fall.  I
have since returned to Spain twice and have also traveled to Mexico and Nicaragua.  I am enjoying
exploring the wide world of Spanish speaking countries and have many more to see!"

"Another important factor in my decision to study Spanish is that I have a daughter-in-law who is
from Peru.  She is bi-lingual in Spanish/English and when she and my son have children, they plan
to raise them bi-lingual.  So, I have a vested interest in being able to speak Spanish!"

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

"By far my favorite part of studying at Tierra has been the small, interactive classes led by
knowledgable and supportive teachers.  The atmosphere is relaxed and geared to helping the student
gain not only proficiency but confidence.  This is my big challenge and I can honestly say that the
classes are fun."

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

"Twice in the last two years I have traveled to Nicaragua to do volunteer work in a rural farming
village. The first year I had been studying for only a few months so my ability to speak and
understand was minimal.  The next year I could actually understand most of what was said to me —if
it was said slowly (!) and I could converse somewhat.  I was pleased with the progress I had made
and am now really looking forward to going again this winter.  I know I can speak in sentences and
hope that I can utter whole paragraphs this next time and not have to slow down the speakers too
much—that is my goal!  It has been so rewarding to get to know the villagers and to learn about
their lives and culture as they express it in their own language."

¡Felicidades Mary Ellen!