Posted by: SSU Lingua Franca | April 23, 2011

Salem State Students are Cultural Ambassadors in Spain

Salem State Students are Cultural Ambassadors in Spain
Interview with Charles Berry

By Fatima Serra, Department of Foreign Languages

Alyssa Barras and Charles Berry with a group of SSU students in Oviedo, Spain, 2009

Alyssa Barras (bottom row, 4th from right, and Charles Berry, bottom row, 2nd from right, with a group of SSU students in Oviedo, Spain, 2009

Salem State will have three of our own help Spanish students learn English during the 2011-2012 Academic Year.  The Ministry of Education of Spain hires North American students and recent graduates to help teachers of English as a Foreign Language.  It is a win-win program: American students get the linguistic and cultural benefits of  a year abroad experience and Spanish students get to practice their English with native speakers and learn about an English-speaking culture first hand.

SSU students Daniel Godden, Alyssa Barras and Charles Berry have been selected to participate in the program next year.  The three of them are graduates of the Oviedo study abroad summer program, and Alyssa and Daniel also completed a semester at the Universidad de Oviedo.  They illustrate how abroad can open new doors and a life of opportunity.

Charles Berry, Former Nursing Major/Spanish Minor gives us some insight into the program:

Why did you apply to become a Cultural Ambassador Program?

I chose to apply for the cultural ambassador program for several reasons. The first reason is because I wanted to learn the Spanish language. I have always wanted to speak Spanish and I have never had the time in my life to truly dedicate myself to learning it. The second reason is because I went to Spain two summers ago and I had the best experience of my life. I met a lot of new and interesting people, learned more Spanish than I ever had in the past, and I gained a new outlook on life that I never would have adopted if it weren’t for my travels to Oviedo, Spain. The last reason I applied to this program is because I would like to pursue a career in international health. What would look better than international work experience and learning a foreign language, one that is often needed in the health care profession?

What will your job consist of?

I will be assisting an English teacher in a middle school or high school. I will assist primarily with conversational English. I will also be teaching the students about my culture, its values, norms, and customs.

Where are you going to live?

The program leaves it up to you to find accommodations. The Faculty and staff of your designated school will assist you but will not find it for you. I am hoping to either room with Spanish natives in a Spanish home, or with other cultural assistants. I would prefer to live with Spanish natives, because it would force me to understand and learn more of the Spanish language.

How much money will you receive?

I will receive a minimum of 700 net Euros per month. I have not yet heard about the specific amount because it varies from region to region depending on the cost of living in each region.

What do you anticipate to get from your year in Spain?

I anticipate learning and comprehending a majority of the Spanish language to the best of my ability, performing to the best of my ability in my role as a cultural ambassador, and gaining a terrific and rare life experience. I can guess that it will be fun, amazing, scary, nerve-racking, and many more emotions at different times.

The region of your destination, what is it like?

The region I will be residing in will be País Vasco or “Basque Country.” It is a region in the north of Spain on the northern coast line. To the east of the region is the French border and the Pyrenees mountain range.  There are two official languages spoken in the area: Spanish and Euskera or Basque.

How did you learn about the program?  When do you recommend other students to apply?

I was told about the program by Dr. Serra while I was in Spain studying two summers ago. The application period begins in November and timing is of the highest importance. Assuming one qualifies, timing is the main determinant of whether one is accepted or rejected.  All students interested should visit the Cultural Ambassadors website in early November and have their applications completed and sent by the end of the month at the latest.

I would recommend other students to apply if they have similar goals as I have.  If they would like to build a unique resume, have an outgoing and adventurous personality, and are eager to learn something about themselves and the people that live amongst us in the world! And remember, you do not need to be a Spanish Major. The prerequisite is an Intermediate level of Spanish to participate in the program.

For those who would like to participate in future years, you can find additional the info at:

http://www.mec.es/sgci/usa/en/programs/us_assistants/default.shtml or contact Professor Serra at the Foreign Languages Department.

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