News and Events
Modern Languages Department Christmas Party and Graduate Recognition
December 10, 2016
The faculty, staff, and December graduates of the Modern Languages Department gathered on December 10 for a Christmas celebration at Abuelo's Mexican Restaurant. The graduates were presented with sashes to commemorate their time abroad.
Graduates Awarded at Senior Recognition Banquet
April 3, 2016
Seniors and faculty enjoyed a party with a western theme on Sunday, April 3, 2016. Several graduates were presented with awards commemorating their academic achievement. All of the seniors were presented with sashes celebrating their year spent abroad.
December 2015 Graduates Receive Sashes
December 5, 2015
On Saturday, December 5, 2015 a Senior Recognition Dinner was held at Abuelo's Mexican Restaurant in honor of the graduating seniors in the Modern Languages Department. Graduates, faculty, and staff enjoyed a wonderful meal, and the seniors were presented with sashes commemorating their year spent abroad.
Department Convocation Highlighted by Prayer of Dedication
September 10, 2015
The Modern Languages Department has gotten some new decoration recently—a semicircle of flags fluttering outside Miller Hall. The flags represent each of Southern’s Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA) sister schools—one flag for each country with an academic year program. On September 10, 2015, students and faculty gathered for a prayer of dedication service held under the flags. Dr. Adrienne Royo, chair of the department, led in a prayer for the Modern Languages Department and the students studying abroad through ACA. Many of the students gathered were former ACA students and were appreciative of the service. Just as students bring a little part of the countries they visit back with them, these flags are a tiny reminder of our sister schools all over the world.
Directly after the dedication, students and faculty moved indoors for the Modern Languages Department’s convocation. Robert Edwards, who works for Sovee, a technology company that produces language-translation software, spoke on the changing economic and cultural environments in China in a presentation entitled “Reading China’s Tea Leaves.” Edwards had spent many years in China and discussed his life there as well as providing a taste of China’s modern history. He gave that history a new perspective and discussed China’s emergence as a global powerhouse. Students were intrigued by his description of his time spent in China, as well as his perspective on Chinese stereotypes. As China moves into a global future, it takes with it the tea leaves of its past.
- by Heyli Gomez and Karly Peckham
May 2015 Graduates Awarded at Senior Recognition Banquet
April 5, 2015
On Sunday, April 5, 2015, Southern Adventist University hosted a Senior Recognition Banquet. University faculty and May 2015 graduates were able to share a delicious dinner. Students enjoyed the tropical theme and spending time with each other one more time before graduation.
The Modern Languages Department presented ACA sashes to its May graduates, which would be worn with their graduation regalia.
The Organization of American States Announces Program for Graduate Students
December 18, 2014
In order to accomplish a stronger integration between Brazil and other countries in the Americas, the Organization of American States (OAS), along with the Coimbra Group of Brazilian Universities (GCUB), has developed the fourth edition of a program that offers over 500 scholarships to citizens of OAS member countries. This program seeks to strengthen cooperation networks and enhance human resources that will ultimately aid in the progress of Brazil and other countries in the Americas. This scholarship program will also broaden cultural and scientific horizons of students through international mobility. This opportunity is available through masters and doctoral programs in a variety of fields and educational centers. A new addition to the program, which was developed through a collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), is programs in health, specifically in health research.
For more information about this opportunity, you can visit the OAS-GCUB program’s website.
Additional scholarships can be found on the Scholarships section of our website.
December 2014 Graduates Receive Their Sashes
December 16, 2014
On Tuesday, December 16, 2014, the Modern Languages Department hosted a Senior Recognition Luncheon to award its December graduates. Faculty and graduates enjoyed a special time to share a meal and fellowship. The graduating seniors received a sash to be worn with their graduate regalia.
May 6, 2014
¡Pura vida! (“Pure life!”) San José, Costa Rica! May 6-25, 2014! Quiet Hour! Southern Adventist University! Southern Adventist University faculty (Spanish & construction), Southern Adventist University students (Education, Nursing, Pre-Engineering, Pre-Medicine, Social Work, Theology, Communications, volunteers)! This diverse group has come together to develop as a single entity.
The following is a definition of "pura vida." From the Urban Dictionary comes the following definition of “Pura vida”: “This is the law of the land in Costa Rica. The expression is used in many forms, from a greeting, to a synonym for 'excellent.' Ticos [Costa Ricans] follow this lifestyle and are some of the most wonderful people on earth. A synonym of ‘hakuna matata,'" Life is wonderful; enjoy it. From the magnificence of the rain forest, to the exquisite awe of the volcanoes, to the sandy white beaches, to the fact that the Costa Rican people and its government take pride in the fact that they have established a model for other countries to set as a priority and a way of life principles of environmental protection and sustainable eco-tourism. According to Wikipedia, “The entire country of 12,596,690 acres (50,977 km²) is under the jurisdiction of eleven large Conservation Areas which were created in 1998. Over 25% of the national territory i.e. 3,221,636 acres (13,037 km²) is included in the national parks, refuges, and protected zones….”
As a result of the “pura vida” philosophy of Costa Rica, once a poor and isolated colony, since becoming independent in the 19th century, Costa Rica has become one of the most stable, prosperous, and progressive nations in Latin America. It constitutionally abolished its army permanently in 1949, becoming the first and one of the few sovereign nations without a standing army. A constitutional republic, it is the only Latin American country to have been a democracy since 1950 or earlier.
May 6, 2014, a 29-member team consisting of one faculty member, Adrienne Royo, PhD, team leader for preachers (Spanish professor from SAU), April Tracy, clinic coordinator (a retired Director of Nurses and professor of nursing from Kentucky), and 27 students from SAU took off from the Atlanta, GA airport for San José, Costa Rica. John Youngberg, construction supervisor (Construction professor at SAU) preceded this group by one day. Upon landing, the groups went through customs, and retrieved their luggage, then were met by a delegation of individuals from the local Conference office, including Joe Spencer, local Mission Coordinator. The team was welcomed in the spirit of “pura vida” with a wonderful Costa Rican lunch (rice and beans), by the church members preparing the meal, at the Mount Olive SDA Church, the president/speaker of Quiet Hour, Bill Tucker, and the local coordinator, Darold Retzer.
The planning and assignments for the evangelistic series began in September, 2013, in the offices of the Evangelistic Resource Center at Southern Adventist University under the leadership of Carlos Martín, PhD, director of the ERC, and Susan Brown, Administrative Assistant of the ERC, in addition to Karen Glassford, Short Term Missions Coordinator at SAU Chaplains’s Office of SAU. Because this was a joint partnership between Southern Adventist University and Quiet Hour Ministries, a delegation of representatives from Quiet Hour came to the SAU campus during the Fall of 2013 to instruct the SAU campus concerning their holistic approach of meeting the physical, as well as spiritual needs of the people, in addition to executing a construction project to benefit a local congregation. This endeavor continued throughout the Fall semester and into the Winter semester. The team leaders were chosen, the students were recruited, and the orientation programs were organized. The team included eleven preachers, clinic staff, and VBS leaders and facilitators for twelve churches in San José. In January, 2014, Dr. Martín had traveled to San José to secure suitable hotel accommodations and to meet with Conference officials and pastors concerning goals, aspirations, and plans for this city-wide campaign.
How does all of this relate to this team’s mission in going to Costa Rica? The preachers went to preach the gospel of Isaiah 65:17: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” Costa Rica offers a beauty that is difficult to surpass and draws one’s attention to God’s wonderful creative powers; however, the preachers were there to point people’s attention to a new world to come and a new life in Christ, a life that is incomprehensible in its exquisiteness and fulfillment. The clinic team of doctors, dentists, nurses, nursing students, and interpreters were there to minister to all that came through the clinic doors for medical or eye care while sharing a message of a new life to look forward to, as depicted in: “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” The appropriate consumption of water, along with other beneficial lessons, was explained, in order that people’s physical lives might be improved; however, the Life Giver was always at the forefront of the treatment of each individual. The longing is for the fulfillment of John the Revelator’s words in Revelation 22:2, “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” The construction team was in Costa Rica to build a church for Iglesia del Carmen, to fulfill a 20-year dream, and to upgrade a single mother’s shack into a 3-bedroom house for herself and her six children. This mother would finally have indoor plumbing and a kitchen with running water and a scrub board to be more effectual in taking care of her family, including her 12-year old daughter who is receiving chemotherapy treatments for her cancer. However, with the eternal outcome of this mission trip in mind, we once again turn to the Word of God and Paul’s anticipatory words: Hebrews 11:10 “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
May Graduates Celebrated at Senior Recognition Banquet
April 6, 2014
On Sunday, April 6 of 2014, Southern Adventist University hosted a Senior Recognition Banquet in the school's Dining Hall. During the event, the Modern Languages Department honored its May graduates by awarding them a sash to be worn with their graduation regalia. Attendees of the banquet included University faculty and graduating seniors, along with their guests.
December Graduates Celebrated in Christmas Party
December 14, 2013
On Saturday, December 14 of 2013, the Modern Languages Department hosted a Christmas supper to celebrate the end of the semester and to reward its graduating seniors. Students and tutors attended the event and enjoyed delicious food prepared by the department’s faculty and staff. The December graduates received a sash to be worn with their graduation regalia.
Graduating Seniors Receive ACA sash
May 2, 2013
On Thursday, May 2, the Modern Languages Department hosted a supper to celebrate its graduating seniors. Many students attended the event with their families, and everyone enjoyed delicious food prepared by Aji Peruvian Restaurant. A tradition was also started during the celebration: for the first time, graduating seniors were recognized with a sash to wear with their graduation regalia. On each sash was the flag representing the respective host countries, as well as the Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA) logo with the motto Learning without Borders. Each sash also included the words Breaking Barriers Building Bridges, the Modern Languages Department’s motto.
Southern’s Presence in ACA Schools
Two years ago, ACA celebrated its 50th anniversary. La Sierra University was the first Adventist university to send a student abroad in 1961. Since then, more than 20,000 students from around the world have participated in ACA programs. Last year alone, 400 students from the North American Division attended the different schools. The ACA program has grown at Southern ever since the university joined ACA in 1966. Carlos Parra, chair of the Modern Languages Department, is very excited with the results from last year, when Southern sent 50 students abroad. Southern, for the second year in a row, has sent the most students abroad out of any other institution. “We plan to continue with this growth,” said Parra.
Students expressed their positive thoughts about their ACA experiences. Sarah Ruf, who studied in Univesidad Adventista del Plata in Argentina, encourages students to experience a year abroad.
“Don’t hesitate to take the opportunity,” says Ruf. “As cliché as it sounds, your year abroad will be the best year of your life.”
Nathan Plank studied German during his year abroad in Seminar Schloss Bogenhofen in Austria. He wants every student to know that even while the ACA experience may seem scary to some of them, everyone in the ACA schools is there to help.
Like Sarah and Nathan, many other students have enjoyed wonderful experiences while studying abroad. Are you ready to embark on your own adventure?
International Studies Graduate Advances to a Philanthropic Career
Tiffany McMearty originally wanted to be a Spanish teacher. However, during her last semester at Southern Adventist University she realized she was still unsure of God’s career path for her. After much discussion and prayer, she switched from a Spanish degree to an international studies degree.
“I liked the degree because it gave me unlimited career options,” McMearty said.
McMearty had studied abroad in Argentina during her sophomore year of college. She chose Universidad Adventista del Plata because of its large size and her desire to learn Spanish.
“Studying abroad was an amazing experience,” McMearty said. “I loved the culture, language, country, and the traveling. I believe that you learn the most in life when you are brave enough to step outside your comfort zone.”
After graduating, McMearty returned to her home in Texas and was able to arrange an interview at Southwestern Adventist University for a receptionist position for the student financial services department.
After accepting the position, McMearty said she found it to be a valuable experience. However, it was not as fulfilling as she had wanted it to be. At this point McMearty found herself thinking of the job she had at the call center at Southern Adventist University during her senior year.
“Working at the Call Center opened my eyes to the world of advancement,” McMearty said. “I discovered that a career in advancement included a lot of jobs that I found fun. Some of these are event planning, relationship building, fundraising, graphic design, and phonathons.”
Once she let Southwestern’s Advancement Department know of her interest, McMearty said that God took care of the rest.
“God opened all the right doors, and I was interviewed and hired as the director of development this last summer,” McMearty said. “Working as the director of development is a dream come true. I feel so fortunate to have found a career that I love so quickly…I find my job very rewarding because I am passionate about Adventist education.”
McMearty said she values the international studies degree she earned at Southern Adventist University and the time she spent in South America. She said she finds both to be helpful in her career.
“The experience of learning Spanish taught me patience and understanding,” McMearty
said. “It also helps me identify with people whose first language is not English.
I believe my experience abroad helps me relate to people of all cultures.”
French Collection Now Available on Mckee Library's Website
November 28, 2012
A digitized version of many of the titles in McKee Library’s French Collection is now available online.
The books—189 volumes spanning more than 255 years—have an estimated value of more than $25,000 and cover a variety of topics including history, philosophy, politics, poetry, and plays. Notable authors include Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Flaubert. Though the majority of the books are written in French, there are also a few works in Italian, English, German, and Latin.
Deyse Bravo Rivera, electronic and continuing resources librarian, said she believes that once more students become aware of the collection, its use will grow.
“I believe that the special value lies in the rarity of these books…the fact that they are so old and so intact; not to mention the wide-ranging topics that the collection encompasses,” Bravo Rivera said.
Carlos Parra, chair of the Modern Languages Department, helped the university acquire the collection in 2001 from a rare books expert.
“The intention was to provide original work for our students,” Parra said. “I thought it would be significant for us to have.”
Considering the fact that many of the books are first edition, Parra said he is glad the collection went digital so professors and students are now able to access the resource while still preserving the books.
“Now you don’t have to worry about protecting the pages. Students may not realize what a privilege it is to see such rare books,” Parra said.
Pierre Nzokizwa, professor of French, suggested professors become more familiar with the collection and then recommend it to students when appropriate. He believes that many departments—science, history, music, religion and others—can benefit from the collection.
Though it is now online, students and staff may still request an appointment with
Bravo Rivera to see the original works. To view the books on the web, visit https://www.southern.edu/library/
Archaeology Major Digs up a Bright Future
October 17, 2012
Clemente “Clay” Perez-Garcia has an impressive resumé. Not many students triple major in international studies, archaeology and biblical studies, but Clay is living proof that it can be done.
“Once I decided to triple major, life got a bit busy,” he said.
Clay began his college career at La Sierra University. However, he stopped attending after a year and became a colporteur for five years, two of which he spent at SOULS West, a Seventh-day Adventist outreach leadership school. After graduating from there, he spent a year as literature ministries director for the Southern California Conference.
During this time, Clay realized that in order to reach out to a more intellectual group of people, he would have to continue his education. He had heard positive things about Southern Adventist University’s religion department and decided he wanted to attend here.
His first choice for a course of study was archaeology, due to his love for the hands-on aspect of the field. However, he attributed his passion for biblical studies to his experience at SOULS West.
“It wasn't until I was in my twenties when biblical history began to pique my interest,” Clay said. “When I was working as a literature evangelist and Bible worker, people began to question the history in the Bible, which made me want to look more into archaeological material to help support the biblical narrative.”
Archaeology and biblical studies fit hand-in-hand, but for those who major in archeology, it is recommended that a student attain the intermediate level of either French or German. Because he was already fluent in Spanish, Clay decided to learn a language that was not Latin-based. This led to the decision to learn German at Seminar Schloss Bogenhofen in Austria for two years.
The experience tied all of his recently-developed interests together. While abroad, he learned about the University of Vienna in Austria, which has a master’s program in classical archaeology with an emphasis in the early Christian period. He will be attending there after graduating this December and hopes to earn his doctorate there before coming back to Southern Adventist University to teach.
- by Avery McKinney
Modern Languages Department Hosts Summer Camp
September 26, 2012
This summer the Modern Languages Department hosted Aventuras en Español (“Adventures in Spanish”), a week-long day camp that brought 10 girls from the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA) to experience life at Southern Adventist University. While the emphasis was primarily on learning Spanish, elements of outdoor education, physics, and chemistry were included in camp curriculum as well.
“These specific disciplines enabled us to offer experiences that they could not have had elsewhere,” said Melissa Tortal, Christian service program director.
Teamwork that Inspires
Ivette Youngberg, a Spanish teacher at CGLA, said she was looking to enrich her program when she contacted Tortal about the idea. Little did Youngberg know that Tortal and Carlos Parra, chair of the Modern Languages Department, had dreamt of the idea for several years. Youngberg said their mutual enthusiasm led to abundant teamwork and volunteer support from faculty and staff at the university.
Adrienne Royo, associate professor of Spanish, taught the girls two hours of Spanish every day during the camp. Watching them adjust to the new environment, she witnessed their comfort level and appreciation for the university grow throughout the week.
“It went fabulously well,” Royo said. “It was beyond what anyone could have expected.”
Alana Retseck, a graduate assistant for the outdoor leadership program, taught the girls everything from basic wilderness survival to first aid skills. Though most of the girls had never experienced any backcountry activities, Retseck was impressed by their behavior and skills.
“They were engaged and energetic through all the events, games, and lectures,” Retseck said. “They asked thought provoking questions and were respectful. It was a joy to teach every single one of them.”
Youngberg said she wanted the girls to experience something different than the inner
city life and believed the university would provide a more fulfilling learning experience.
Hopefully, she said, the time spent at Southern will inspire them to pursue college.
The Future of Aventuras en Español
Though the camp was successful, its status for next summer remains uncertain. If faculty, staff and student resources are available again in 2013, Tortal said she hopes to expand CGLA by possibly making the camp longer or by adding even more disciplines. The summer camp staff plan to meet to discuss potential funding sources and the possible involvement of upperclassmen and graduate assistants next year. For more information about Aventuras en Español, or to volunteer, contact Adrienne Royo at 423.236.2395.
Deaf Pastor Travels to Philippines for Ministry
May 9. 2012
Jeffrey Jordan, pastor of the Southern Deaf Fellowship of Seventh-day Adventists and adjunct professor in the modern languages department, visited Manila, Mindanao, and Bohol Island in the Philippines from Feb. 20 to March 8 to spread the gospel to the Deaf.
Jordan, who was born deaf, said that after going to India three different times for mission work, he felt impressed that the Philippines was in need. He contacted Gospel Outreach, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist church. Gospel Outreach began Deaf ministries in the Philippines a few years ago, Jordan said.
“They were very excited to have me, so arrangements were made,” Jordan said.
Nothing is Impossible
While in the Philippines, Jordan held evangelistic meetings entitled “Hope for the Deaf” where he signed to Deaf audiences about the plan of salvation.
Jordan said he was surprised when The Hope Channel allowed him to film the meetings
live while in Mindanao.
“Each afternoon, the studio was packed full of about 40 to 50 Deaf people sitting in the audience,” Jordan said. “Nothing is impossible for God.”
Because of these evangelistic meetings, four people were baptized in Manila and nine were baptized in Mindanao.
Jordan said that he believes the Deaf are a neglected group of people and that no
one is reaching them due to the language barrier.
According to an article in Adventist World, if all Deaf people were in one place, they would be the fourth-largest country in the world. However, the article also states that only an estimated 2% of Deaf people are Christian.
These staggering statistics have also led Jordan to do mission work in India, Barbados and The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
If you have a passion for deaf ministries, Southern Adventist University’s modern languages department offers elementary and intermediate American Sign Language (ASL) classes and will soon offer a course on ASL Linguistics. The department also provides courses on Topics in American Sign Language and a Deaf Culture class, both of which do not require any knowledge of ASL. You can also visit the Southern Deaf Fellowship of Seventh-day Adventists church located in McDonald, Tenn.
For more information, visit the Southern Deaf Fellowship online.
-by Avery McKinney
Dream of Visiting Cuba is Realized by Father and Daughter
April 4, 2012
Adrienne Royo, interim chair of the Modern Languages department, taught English and spoke for the church service at the Cuba Adventist Theological Seminary during her trip to the island from March 1 to March 8.
Royo said she has felt called to go to Cuba for the last 10 years. Before leaving
on her journey she said, “I want to go feel it—I want to go beyond just hearing about
While at the seminary, Royo taught English alongside her 88-year-old father, Robert Wood, who taught a class on the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Royo said it had been Wood’s lifelong dream to go to Cuba.
Royo’s sermon, “The Mission of the Commission,” was about how pastors need to have a personal experience with the Gospel so that they can effectively share it with others.
Communism in Action
The most shocking thing Royo saw in Cuba was communism in action. People there have
rationing books; milk, cereal, and cheese are considered a delicacy.
“I knew about the poverty, but I never could have imagined it,” Royo said. “They are literally stuck in the 1950s. We are so blessed in the United States.”
She said she was also surprised to learn that you must get permission to possess a driver’s license and own a car. Because of these dietary and transportation limitations, Royo said that Cubans are resourceful people.
“They don’t have a lot, so they have creative solutions to problems,” Royo said. “They have learned to cope.”
Though there are not any solid plans yet, Royo would love to return to Cuba.
On January 28, 2011, the United States relaxed the legal process necessary for obtaining
a license to visit Cuba. With an invitation from the seminary and a letter of sponsorship
from the Inter-American Division, Royo and Wood had all they needed to get a religious
“It’s God’s timing,” Royo said. “There’s no doubt about it.”
The seminary, built by Maranatha in 1995, is located in Havana and has 120 students. The campus contains two large classrooms, a library, a carpentry shop, a printing press from 1900, a recording studio, and a computer lab without internet access.
Internships Available through Adventist Colleges Abroad
March 19, 2012
Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA) is currently offering internships in a variety of academic areas in Argentina, Germany, Brazil, France, Austria, Spain, and Italy. In order to get one internship credit through ACA, a student must work a total of 75 hours in one quarter. The internships can be on or off campus, providing a diverse selection of possibilities.
For students seeking jobs after graduation, being bilingual is not as impressive as it used to be, according to Odette Ferreira, director of ACA. Businesses are looking for more from their future employees, and international internships are a great resume builder.
“Any experience working abroad is extremely valuable for students because it puts them in situations where they have to interact with the locals,” said Antonietta Riviello, program director of Villa Aurora in Italy. “They not only learn the theory of the new language, but also learn a different style of working.”
Carlos Solano, a recent alumnus of Southern, did a marketing and advertising internship at Collonges in France in 2011.
“I was able to practice my knowledge of the French language in a professional setting, which has become a great asset for me on the occasions when I need to conduct business internationally,” Solano said. Solano feels his internship helped him learn the expected etiquette, intricacies, and protocols when doing international business.
Sarah Ruf, senior international studies major, did an internship in Argentina in 2011. She helped produce video projects for Universidad Adventista del Plata and Esperanza TV, Hope Channel’s Spanish-language equivalent.
“This was not a tutoring session,” Ruf said. “This was real life, and I was able to use my Spanish skills to interact with people who became my friends.”
This interaction comes in a variety of ways. Students doing internships also take classes in the morning and go on cultural tours throughout the semester. Ferreira said that this schedule keeps students very busy, but if they are organized they will find time to see and do many fun things.
“Doing an internship empowers students,” said Carlos Parra, professor of Spanish at Southern and member of the ACA Board. “Students not only get a broader education, but also gain priceless professional and personal skills much needed in our current global condition.”
Parra recommends that students meet with their academic advisor in order to understand the requirements for the internship for their particular program prior to studying abroad. Students should then inform the program director at the school they wish to attend of those requirements. This allows time for the program director to find an internship that fits the student’s qualifications.
The Modern Languages Department Welcomes Undergraduate Research
November 4, 2010
For some, research is synonymous with long, sleepless nights spent preparing for graduate-level projects. For others, it means countless hours spent with one’s nose shoved in a book, reading about an assigned topic. However, for Carlos Parra, PhD, chair of the Modern Languages Department, research is something that students of all academic disciplines should engage in under the mentorship of a professor. In an effort to promote research, the faculty of the Modern Languages Department has developed an undergraduate research initiative.
The initiative’s objective is to foster student growth through faculty-assisted research.
“The point is stepping out of the box,” says Parra, “for students to stretch themselves beyond classroom and laboratory settings on campus.”
The project is being lead by two very driven students—Sara Bernal, a senior broadcast journalism major, and Shawna Avila, a recent clinical mental health counseling graduate. The two are engaged in research with Parra and are preparing to be presenters at a national conference in November.
Undergraduate research in the Modern Languages Department is open to whoever has a passion to engage in research, regardless of major. Sara and Shawna, working closely with Parra, have taken their studies far beyond the classroom. They will present at the Strangers in New Homelands conference at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, on November 12, 2010. Their presentation is entitled “Displacement and Invalidation: Shaping an ‘Illegal’ Identity for Latinos at ‘Home’ in the U.S.”
With the undergraduate research initiative, the Modern Languages Department is providing an opportunity for the development of personal academic discipline and the strengthening of professional résumés for students and teachers alike.
The dynamic initiative has the best interest of students, teachers, and the university as a whole in mind. It benefits students by providing them with the opportunity to explore something they enjoy while expanding their ability to think critically. It benefits teachers by giving them the opportunity to “fuel their passion,” as Parra puts it. Through this initiative, teachers who are committed to their academic disciplines can make a significant impact on a student’s life by igniting this passion in their students.
If a teacher can spark a quest for knowledge and research in a student, then that student will spread the fire. If one student is passionate, others will follow. Thus, Southern Adventist University will be greatly benefited by student research on campus.
“We have managed to put our professional interests together,” states Parra. “My dream is that students and teachers from the variety of disciplines on campus be able to work together to produce substantial research, while helping students develop the tools they need for their futures.”
-by Modern Languages Department
Students Volunteer at Health Fairs
November 4, 2010
Students and staff from Southern Adventist University provided translation and general volunteer services at two Spanish health fairs (the first-ever Hispanic Health Expo and the Latino Health Fair) held in Chattanooga this fall, reaching out to more than 900 Spanish-speaking residents.
Student interpreters had their choice between interpreting doctor’s lectures, interpreting for personal doctor-patient consultations, or interpreting for health professionals at numerous information booths.
“I enjoyed being able to help people understand information about their health in order to better their lives,” says Carlos Cordero, a senior business administration major who served as a student interpreter at both health fairs. Carlos was particularly touched when meeting a little girl with Down’s Syndrome, believing her parents wouldn’t have received the information necessary to adequately care for her had it not been for the health fair.
In addition to interpreting, volunteers from Southern (many of whom are learning Spanish) participated in setting up meeting rooms, guiding crowds to physicians for consultations, entertaining children, and serving food.
"I enjoyed the expressions of joy on people’s faces when I handed them a tortilla,”
says sophomore biology major Joseph Shim. “It just felt good to help.”
Sophomore biochemistry major Vanessa Valleray said, "It was so fun painting the kids faces! I tried my hardest to speak to them in Spanish, but when I couldn’t figure out a phrase such as “close your eyes,” I would just do the action myself and they would copy me. Communicating was not as hard as I expected, and I had a wonderful time working with the children."
-by Chelsea Glass, sophomore Spanish major
Internship Leads to Full-time Job for Alumnus
October 25, 2010
For Devin Page, ’09, the ability to adapt to new languages and cultures is not just
a hobby—it’s how he earns his living.
Devin, who earned a BA in international studies with an emphasis in Italian and a BS in business administration, said that often his language skills are helpful when he's spending his workday discussing legal document language technicalities and negotiating insurance contracts on the island of Bermuda.
Working in Bermuda is just one of Devin’s many global adventures. While he was growing up, Devin’s parents often traveled as part of their work. Devin tagged along and explored new cultures and interacted with new people. It was these trips that inspired him to pursue a degree in international studies from Southern.
After he graduated, Devin returned to his home in Canada. There he got a job with Christian Record Services, organizing activities at camps for young people who are blind. Devin soon applied for an internship at an insurance firm in Bermuda and was accepted. Having studied in Florence, Italy, through Adventist Colleges Abroad, Devin’s fluency in Italian peaked the insurance firm's interest right away. Devin was already familiar with Bermuda from his visits with family members who live on the island. Devin’s mom is Canadian, his dad is Bermudian, and Devin himself has dual citizenship.
The internship position led to a job. Devin believes that his knowledge of other cultures helped him land the job.
"Employers are looking for people who are sensitive to cultural differences and who can navigate through the miscommunications that occur between different cultures," Devin said. “Having that alone makes people competitive."
The fact that he is a native English speaker paired with his knowledge of other languages and cultures has been a key factor in bridging cultural gaps in his work.
As a technical assistant for Bowring Marsh, Devin works with businesses around the world. He likes the fact that his job isn't routine. “One day I'll be working with a pharmaceutical company, and then the next day it's something completely different,” says Devin. “I get the opportunity to dabble in a bunch of different fields.” On a day-to-day basis, Devin works with Fortune 500 companies to help ensure their specific risk-related needs are met so they can operate efficiently. He's been working there since October 2009, and the insurance firm has helped him obtain the associate in risk management professional designation.
Photo by Mark Tatem//The Royal Gazette
Bringing People to the Bible in Ecuador
October 11, 2010
When my first evangelistic meeting in Ecuador started, no one was there. During Sunday mass, the priest told the parishioners to not attend the meetings because “false” doctrines were going to be taught. However, a few minutes after 7 pm, a few individuals began to arrive. By 7:30 pm there were about 20 people who showed up and asked if we could begin a little later because they were very interested in hearing the presentations.
Focusing on the Bible
That night, I presented the Bible as a love letter from God that provides the answers
that we need–the Bible being the source of all wisdom and knowledge for every aspect
of our lives. In closing, we asked questions concerning our presentations and gave
out copies of Spanish editions of Who are the Angels? and Steps to Christ. There were
also numerous requests for Bibles!
The next evening I presented on how to treat your neighbor, defined as anyone that we come in contact with, including our family. Once again I emphasized the fact that the Bible is our source of wisdom and knowledge for dealing with all of life’s problems. Those who knew how to locate the Bible texts assisted those who were just learning how to look up texts.
The following evening we decided to begin with the evangelistic series and end with a health nugget. Everything proceeded as planned until I was wrapping up my topic on how to deal with difficulties in life. One of the members of the audience raised his hand and stated that he had read in one of the books that we had given out that the seventh day had been changed from Saturday to Sunday. He requested that we explain which day is the seventh day, Saturday or Sunday. The Bible worker opened his Bible and led the audience to texts that indicate that the Bible is the source of all information and that it interprets itself. He then read the Sabbath commandment in Exodus 20:8-11, followed by Genesis 2:1-5, to establish the fact that God was the one who ordained the Sabbath. He explained that more studies would follow and that the Bible would speak for itself concerning the truth about the Sabbath and all other subjects. At the close of the meeting, someone in the audience requested that we sing, and we ended with “Fija tus ojos en Cristo” (“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”) and a prayer circle. That night, there was not time for a health nugget; however, a new group of seekers for the Kingdom of Heaven was born, to the glory of God.
The next evening, no health nugget was presented, as those in attendance had an even
keener desire to learn of the Word of God and the truths that it holds. The Bible
worker co-presented with me concerning the veracity and the inspiration of the Bible.
More Bibles were given out, and arrangements were made for the truth-seekers to continue
deeper Bible studies after our group returned to the United States.
Before the meeting began Friday, I spoke with various individuals who had been attending the series. Quite a number of people were there, and some brought friends and family members with them. A number of the individuals who had been to the clinic had gotten glasses so that they could read the texts in the Bibles that were given to them. The hunger for learning what the Bible has to say was such a powerful force that each individual was drawing upon whatever available resources to make that desire a reality. Before we left, arrangements were made for the local Bible worker to visit the individuals. This would give each of these individuals, and anyone who wished to learn of God’s Word, the chance to dig deeper into the Bible.
It was a challenge to make the decision to go to Ecuador for two weeks, to make the financial sacrifice to make it possible, to leave family behind, and to take those long bus rides—but the rewards will be counted and recounted throughout eternity!
Knowing a Foreign Languages Can Take You Anywhere: A Language Major's Experience
November 16, 2009
From its beginnings, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been about evangelism and
mission. In 1990, at the Indianapolis General Conference session, the church initiated
a renewed focus on global missions. This initiative parallels the increasing public
discourse concerning globalization. One of the ways this global missions initiative
will be achieved is through bettering the communication skills of those who engage
in the mission of “reaching the unreached.” With this global mission in mind, building
and maintaining strong language programs in our institutions is of significant importance.
Learning a new language is learning a new way of seeing the world. The cultural competencies
that are gained through studying language ultimately open new doors, creating opportunities
that wouldn’t otherwise be available.
A number of students in the Modern Languages Department have enjoyed such open doors and opportunities to serve others through their knowledge of a foreign language, including Heather Elmendorf. Elmendorf is a senior international studies major with emphases in French and in intercultural communication. She is a mission-oriented young lady who looks for opportunities to serve. Elmendorf spent a year furthering her study of French through the Seventh-day Adventist church’s Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA) program in Collonges-sous-Salève, France. Her passion for the language and her desire to help other students learn French led her to become a French tutor in the Modern Languages Department. Her first open door came in 2008. It took her to Morocco, a French- and Arabic-speaking country, for a short term assignment (May - July 2008).
Elmendorf is very appreciative of the cultural sensitivity she developed while studying abroad. Elmendorf asserts that her previous exposure to the French language and culture prepared her to adjust to the culture of Morocco. Her next open door was the opportunity to spend a year in service at the Taiwan Adventist International School (August 2008 - July 2009). Once again, her cultural and language skills were put to use.
“Because of my experiences traveling, studying, and working abroad, I have learned about how I, personally, adjust to new environments, cultures, and languages, and that knowledge helped me a great deal in Taiwan,” she said.
While in Taiwan, Elmendorf started a French class for students interested in learning foreign languages. When she returns to Taiwan next summer to engage in long term missionary work, she will continue and expand her teaching of French. Elmendorf has developed a deep understanding of the stakes surrounding learning a foreign language.
“Many students approach language study the same way they approach other general courses: as an unfortunate requirement that has no bearing on their "real" life. In my experience, I have found this to be far from true. My language studies have opened opportunities and given me experiences that were wholly unanticipated—and thoroughly worthwhile. My life has taken many surprising turns by virtue of knowing another language, and I hope that other students will be able to understand this value of language study. Though it may be difficult at first to see the connection between studying, for example, French and Biology, I guarantee that later on opportunities will present themselves. These opportunities will provide fresh challenges and will enrich your life!”
Our call to service demands that we approach language studies with a view that goes beyond the academic language requirement in a given department. By increasing our ability to communicate and enhancing our cultural competencies, knowing a foreign language enables us to better operate globally as we fulfill our spiritual, social, and occupational mission.
Professor of Spanish Finds Her Niche in Teaching
October 9, 2009
Recently hired professor of Spanish Adrienne Royo began her teaching career at the
young age of five months in her mother’s Maryland classroom. Standing up on wobbly
baby legs in the play pen situated in front of the blackboard, Royo imitated her teacher
mother. With unintelligible gurgles and hand gestures towards the board, Royo took
her first few steps towards her future occupation.
Royo’s early training continued during her years in Mexico, where she lived from the age of nine to the age of sixteen while her father attended medical school. As he was studying and practicing medicine, Royo and her younger sister, in true teacher style, had the locals studying and practicing their English.
Despite all the early signs, Royo decided to major in nursing when she reached college, thinking that it was the only way she could become an effective missionary. One semester of botany was all it took to convince her that the sciences were not her niche. It was not until one of her own Spanish professors set an inspiring example that she set her eyes on teaching the language. Since then, Royo has been happily teaching and learning.
For Royo, realizing that she did not have to be a nurse and travel to distant countries to be a missionary was monumental. She has come to believe that the mission field does not depend on what you do or where you are. “No matter what your profession is, you have a mission field and you have a mission … It’s not the profession, it’s the willingness.”
Royo’s willingness has spilled over into her other passions. She loves to interpret, has worked as a lay pastor, is an ordained elder in the Spanish church, and has been involved in starting two Spanish churches and is helping to start a third.
The opportunity to teach at Southern, Royo feels, is an answer to prayer. She enjoys teaching her students and has set goals for them, one being that the students will understand Spanish music lyrics by the end of the course. She is thrilled at the thought of being able to share her faith directly and unapologetically with her students. One way that she has been doing this is by encouraging each of her students to learn to pray in Spanish by the end of the course, another one of her goals. In her dedication to service in the church and her commitment to teach her students how to communicate with God, Royo’s beliefs brilliantly shine.
Graduate Goes from Odd Jobs to Overseas
October 9, 2009
Almost instantaneously, Keturah Grindley went from doing odd jobs and worrying about
her future to working as a secretary for the Euro-African Division of Seventh-day
After graduating from Southern Adventist University in May 2008 with a degree in French, Grindley vigorously pursued her dream of working in international humanitarian aid. Despite all of her efforts, however, Grindley found herself scrambling just to find a job waitressing or in retail.
“It just didn't make sense to me how someone could look so hard for work and find absolutely nothing!” said Grindley.
Grindley’s frustration eventually gave way to the realization that God was still providing for her, even under her strained circumstances. She decided to let go and let God handle her life and her dreams, including her strong desire to return to Switzerland.
Soon after this, Grindley met the wife of an Italian pastor who was visiting the Chattanooga area. The woman told Grindley about an opening for a secretary in the Euro-African Division and advised her to apply. Surprisingly, the job also happened to be based in Switzerland. Although Grindley knew very little about the job and had no expectations, she applied.
“Immediately,” said Grindley, “I received an email response saying that they wanted to do a Skype™ webcam interview with me. Now here I am. It all happened so fast!”
Grindley is now settled into her new job in Berne, Switzerland, where she works as a secretary for Mario Brito, the head of five departments of the Euro African Division. Because of her location in Switzerland, Grindley is also working on adding German to her knowledge of English, French, and Italian.
Grindley said, “I am still trying to learn how to let go of my plans for my life and just focus on learning what God's plan is for my life … But, I know one thing: He does have a plan for my life. He is so much bigger than me, and His plans for me are also so much bigger than my plans for myself.”
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