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December 2018 - Scott Shurtleff

A tremendously dedicated student, Scott’s unshakably positive attitude and endless curiosity are an inspiration. A passionate activist for immigrants’ and refugees’ rights, he finds great use for his Spanish skills in his volunteer work and is a voice for justice for our local immigrant community. Having started taking classes at Tierra as a high beginning student last fall, he’s been wholly committed to his classes and has made impressive progress, now possessing high intermediate skills. Always arriving by bike with a wide smile and buoyant energy, the kindness and support he bestows upon his classmates enrich the learning atmosphere for everyone. We’re grateful to count Scott as part of our community at Tierra and are honored to indirectly impact the lives of many through his good works.


Name: Scott Shurtleff
Occupation: Retired. Volunteer for tax preparation, Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice, and Portland Clean Energy Fund.
Time Studying at Tierra: One year

1) Why are you studying Spanish?

"I love learning Spanish! It allows me to connect with the Spanish-speaking population in our region, supports my volunteer tax preparation work and creates opportunity for travel. I studied Spanish back in high school and it is wonderful to reconnect with this beautiful language in my second half of life journey.

I also feel that learning and using Spanish is great exercise for my brain. It opens me up to a different way of thinking since language, thought patterns and culture are so interrelated!"

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

"I have several favorite things about Tierra Educational Center. I feel that the most important is the community that is formed by Tierra. It’s much more than just going to a class and doing your independent work. Instructors encourage students to engage in other ways. For example, during the summer break period my class gathered in social venues independently just to have conversation in Spanish.

Did I mention the fabulous instructors at Tierra? They are dedicated to helping their students learn and they make all of it fun!"

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

"There are so many instances. Here is one that is very meaningful to me. As part of the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMIrJ), a woman refugee from Honduras and her son are living here in Portland awaiting their court hearing for asylum. They speak very little English, yet I took the opportunity to take them grocery shopping. My instructor, Laura, helped me prepare for the outing. It was very rewarding to support this family and it allowed me to practice my Spanish. Such a blessing!"

¡Felicidades Scott!