Where are they now?
Want to know what you can do with a degree in Spanish & Latin American Studies (or even just a few language/culture/civilization classes)? Read on to learn more about some of the amazing things our former students have been up to since graduating from Dal.
Emily Stewart, MD
I took both Spanish and Mandarin classes through Dalhousie's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, while I was completing my degree in Environmental Science and Economics at Dalhousie. After graduating, I spent 8 months living and working in Ecuador, where I further practiced my Spanish skills on a daily basis.
This was followed by 4 years in medical school at the University of Toronto. Now, I am in my second year as a UBC Emergency Medicine resident physician in Vancouver, BC.
Being able to have basic conversations in multiple languages helps me communicate in the emergency department with our diverse patient population in Canada.
Emily Stewart, MD
Karim Mukhida, MD, PhD, FRCPC, MBA
I studied Spanish during my undergraduate years as a way to improve my grammar and feel more comfortable speaking with my grandparents, who lived in Madrid. Having since gone onto a career in medicine, the importance of communication to fostering therapeutic relationships with patients has become clear to me. As an anesthesiologist, I sometimes are only able to see patients just before they are brought to the operating room and so have a narrow window of time in which to put patients at ease and comfort. I have found that the ability to enhance that communication experience, by speaking with patients in their primary language for example, can go a long way to helping patients through a stressful life experience; sometimes all it takes is a greeting or a few words.
Amy Bartlett, B.A., LL.B., LL.M
Currently serving as Director of the Refugee Hub, Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa.
A rural New Brunswicker by birth, I had very little exposure to Spanish (or much else 'international') growing up; but even in my relative naivety, I knew that being able to communicate was going to be a gateway to the world. So I threw myself into my educational career at Dalhousie in 1995, completing a B.A. in Spanish in 1998 and enjoying every minute (even serving as co-President of the Spanish Society back in 1996 I believe). From that hispano-linguistic foundation, I went on to law school and graduate studies in law, always with my eye to making inroads in the global sphere (where, of course, language capacity is a must). Armed with my education and language skills, combined with a lot of hard work and perseverance, I have gone from growing up in a small town in rural New Brunswick to building a successful professional career in international development. I have enjoyed working multi-lingually for almost 15 years now, with 10 of those being overseas, often using Spanish on a daily basis.
My professional passions have evolved over time, but thanks to being exposed to so many countries and systems, they currently include organization building, advocacy and mobilization, civil society strengthening and multi-stakeholder partnerships. From my beginnings in the Spanish program, my career path has allowed me to take up a wide variety of positions, from my current role as Director of the Refugee Hub at University of Ottawa, to Executive Director of RESULTS Canada, to leading the Secretariat of the Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness in Brussels, Belgium; to managing the Civil Society Index programme at CIVICUS in Johannesburg, South Africa; to helping build a rural conflict education and prevention project in Huancavelica, Peru. And it all began with an 'hola' in the Dalhousie Spanish Department back in 1995! :)
Benjamin Klein, MD, FRCPC
Developmental Pediatrician, Medical Director, Lansdowne Children’s Centre, Brantford
Consultant Pediatrician, Brantford General Hospital
Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University
"After studying Spanish and Latin American Studies at Dalhousie I went to study medicine at the Universities of Western Ontario and McMaster, with residencies in pediatrics and rehabilitation. I then joined the Department of Pediatric Rehabilitation at McMaster. As a medical student I worked at a rural hospital in Bolivia as one of my rotations. The experience there taught me a lot--just as much about culture as about medicine. I have since accompanied Fr. Fabian Gorodzinsky, my mentor, to Honduras on several medical brigades, and recently assumed the responsibility of directing the mission there. We have a website http://www.canadahonduraschi.com.
Our health brigade emphasizes pediatric rehabilitation, and we have the support of therapists and technicians who have provided therapeutic aids (such as specialized orthopedic chairs) for our patients who have disabilities such as cerebral palsy and hydrocephaly. We work with the Lempira Integral Rehabilitation Centre in Gracias, Lempira, Honduras.
For me, combining my two passions—pediatrics and Latin American Studies--is a dream come true. My regular work is in Brantford, Ontario, at a pediatric rehabilitation centre, where I work with children from marginalized sectors, especially children supported by Social Services, and First Nations children."
Nirmala Bains (1998-2002) BA combined honors in International Development Studies and Spanish.
I graduated from Dalhousie in 2002 with combined honors in International Development Studies and Spanish. I did three study abroad programs. Yes, three! Or should I say, tres? I studied at the University of Salamanca, Spain in the Fall 2000 semester. The following semester, I was at the University of Havana, Cuba, and in Fall 2001, I participated in the Spanish program at the University in Campeche, Mexico. What did I realize? Language is a fundamental part of culture. It is through learning and practicing Spanish within these different cultural contexts that I was able to truly grasp its complexity, diversity and beauty. Although I have yet to manage to roll my r’s, but that’s another story!
The experiences that I gained through the Spanish department at Dalhousie were formative in broadening my worldview. So much so, that upon graduating, I spent the next five years travelling, volunteering and working abroad. All of these undertakings led me to pursue an MA in cultural anthropology at Concordia University (2007-2009) where I investigated questions about race and nationality.
Today I am living my dream, working as a college teacher in Montreal, Quebec. I continue to be inspired by the committed and passionate Dalhousie Spanish teachers that engaged me as a student and I strive to emulate them through my teaching.
Andrew Richards, BSc, Double Major in Biology and Spanish
“I am very appreciative of the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies and all of its faculty. I graduated from Dalhousie University in October 2014 with a double major in Biology and Spanish. During my undergraduate degree, I took the opportunity to do a semester abroad in Campeche Mexico where I met all kinds of wonderful people and formed many close relationships. My experience abroad has made me a stronger, brighter person and the complete immersion aspect proves to be very beneficial when it comes to reading, understanding and conversing in Spanish.
Since graduating, I have become involved with the Ecology Action Centre as a volunteer and at Dalhousie I tutored first year Spanish through the Transition Year Program. I am also very glad I was given the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for Agroforestry, a third year biology course which I took in 2013. Outside the city of Halifax, I have contributed greatly to the Abundance Cooperative Academy, a local, herbicide free permaculture farm in the South Shore of Nova Scotia. This fall, I plan to travel back to Mexico, Central America and hopefully South
America to pursue my interests in Latin American culture, tropical permaculture and sustainable development.”
Caitlin Aker, BA 2009, Double Major in International Development and Economics
“My name is Caitlin Aker, and I graduated from Dalhousie University in 2009 with a double major in International Development and Economics. I also studied Spanish and was fortunate to participate in the International Exchange Program In Campeche, Mexico, where I lived with a Spanish-speaking family and attended la Universidad Autonoma de Campeche for a full semester. At the time, I had aspirations of working with Non-Governmental Organizations in Latin America. Although I now work as a Financial Advisor with Scotiabank, I am constantly reminded of the importance of speaking another language and the relevance of the cultural insight I acquired while studying abroad.
In addition to learning a new language, making lifelong friends, and developing an insatiable appetite for Mexican food during my time in Campeche, I also experienced the operation of day-to-day banking in another country as well as the unique challenges that accompany it, which illuminated some of the key differences between Canadian banking and banking in foreign jurisdictions. This knowledge, in addition to my ability to speak Spanish, has allowed me to help newcomers to Canada—be they international students or otherwise—navigate through the process of starting a banking relationship in this country.
The global marketplace is becoming smaller every day, which means that Canadian banking—or, for that matter, any industry—is rarely confined within our nation’s boarders. Whether you are considering a career in finance or otherwise, I believe that attaining a second language will soon become no longer just an asset but a necessity, and there is no better way to learn a second language than to immerse yourself in it completely. The International Exchange Program not only provides that opportunity, but does so in an environment that is warm, welcoming, and enjoyable.”
Kate Archibald, BSc 2010, Double Major in Psychology and Spanish
"I graduated from Dalhousie with a double major in Psychology and Spanish in 2010. I absolutely loved my Spanish classes, and my experience participating in an exchange to Campeche, Mexico, inspired me to immerse myself in the language with the aim of becoming fluent. I thus moved to Madrid a few months after graduation and worked in a school as a Language and Culture Assistant (English teacher) for a Bilingual Education Development Program. I taught English to children ranging from the age of 3 to 18 and was constantly immersed in Spanish, being the only fluent English teacher at my school.
I lived in Spain with three Spaniards, who became, and still are, my Spanish family. I immersed myself in the Spanish culture, drinking Rioja, eating tapas and staying out on the streets in warm weather with friends. I also had the opportunity to travel much of the country on holidays and during visits from friends and family. I spent a year and a half living and working in Madrid, and I still miss that wonderful city, and the Spanish way of life.
Following my time in Madrid, my love of Spanish and warm weather brought me to Central America, where I traveled through Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. My fluency had greatly improved and being able to converse with locals made my travels more interesting, authentic and safe.
Although I was unsure of exactly what career path I wanted to take, I felt that a Law degree would open many doors, and could potentially allow me to use my Spanish (in immigration, working in international law, or for an international company). Following my first year at Law school, I went to Nicaragua again, this time to do an internship with a charitable organization, Pathway to Change. The program focuses on providing impoverished children with a quality education, and supporting their families. While there I had the opportunity to use my skills, experience and interests: I tutored English, taught a cooking and nutrition class (in Spanish), led basketball practices, translated for American groups that traveled to Nicaragua to build houses.
During my second year at Law school, I began volunteering at the Halifax Refugee Clinic. There I am able to incorporate my interest in immigration and refugee matters, along with some translation with Spanish speaking clients. I am currently a Summer Student at a large law firm in Halifax, and will be clerking at the Federal Court of Canada in Ottawa following graduation next spring. I continue to look for travel opportunities to Spanish speaking countries whenever I have the chance, and I really hope to incorporate Spanish into my legal career, wherever it takes me."
Sarah Bood, BA 2006, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Spanish
"I want to express my appreciation for the Spanish program. I believe the professors and diverse selection of classes in this department are held in high regard by students. From personal experience, I also believe the study abroad programs offered are one of a kind and very well organized.
My degree in Spanish from Dalhousie has allowed me to travel to Spanish-speaking countries and meet incredible people from different cultures. Thanks to my Spanish language classes, I was also offered a dream job as an assistant coordinator for the Dalhousie Cuba Study Exchange program. Part of my job was to act as a translator for students while in Cuba and I felt very confident to take on this task.
I am currently living in Kuujjuaq, Quebec, and working as a fourth grade teacher. You would be surprised to learn how many people here speak Spanish. I feel very enriched by my experiences abroad. Also, my ability to speak Spanish continues to help me meet people and gives me confidence to travel. I am grateful to the Spanish Department for all I have learned from them."
"I took three courses in the Spanish Department during my first year of university in 1982-83. I had spent the previous year in Peru with family, and returned to Canada curious to learn more about my Latin American heritage. I didn't know then, but seemingly small choices then changed the course of my life. The interest in Latin America and Spanish led to a shift from my intended biology degree to the arts and a major in Latin American Studies (and Geography) at the University of Toronto.
During my BA, I traveled several times to Nicaragua, and eventually wrote an MA thesis on Liberation Theology and Women in Nicaragua. I have also worked with an NGO that supported development projects in Latin America, and taught Spanish in various places, including a high school and at Dalhousie! I still have Cinco Maestros: Cuentos modernos de Hispanoamérica on my bookshelf. Axolotl and La siesta del martes remain two of my favourite short stories and continue to teach me about perspective and dignity.
I now work at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, and I interview people from all over the world about their immigration experiences. The addition of a few unintended courses on my schedule during first year university helped establish the foundation for what has turned out to be a long engagement with people, languages, culture and history. I still like animals and trees, but my life has allowed me to explore my personal and family background, meet people from many, many walks of life, reflect upon the joys and sorrows of being human, and be engaged in the world in a professionally meaningful way. Changing courses can be the best thing ever!"
Nicole Butler, BSc 2012, Major in Biology
Nicole is currently studying Optometry at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. Two years ago, she traveled to Honduras with a group called Unite for Sight. Unite for Sight helps out optometry and ophthalmology clinics in Honduras, as well as Nigeria and India. They also pay for the equipment necessary to perform cataract surgery. During the six weeks she was there, she traveled with a doctor to small villages and helped them with their exams and gave them reading and sun glasses if necessary. Nicole's knowledge of Spanish that she learned at Dal is what helped her get this placement; Unite for Sight only sends volunteers to Honduras who already know Spanish.
Not only has Spanish helped Nicole with volunteering, but during vacations as well. Her experiences are that much richer because she was able to speak with the locals and get to know them better.
Next summer, Nicole plans on traveling to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago; not only does she want to visit, but also get to know the culture and see a different way of living. Because of Spanish, she is able to learn and understand so much more.
Corinne Caissie, BSc 2013, Double Major in Molecular Biology and Spanish
Corinne moved to Calgary after graduation and although she doesn't use Spanish with her work, she met a friend from Costa Rica whose family didn't speak much English and was therefore able to keep up her Spanish skills with them. She hopes to travel to Costa Rica in the future. In September, she will return to school for Nursing and hopes to eventually get her Master's degree. She is very grateful to have been able to study Spanish at Dal. Not only did she learn a new language, but also had the opportunity to study and participate in a completely new culture.
Kewoba Carter, BA 2011, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and English
"Choosing to take Spanish language and history classes was one of the best decisions I made as an undergraduate student. My language classes were great. The lessons were fun and interactive and my instructors taught at just the right pace. If I ever struggled with any of the material, they were more than willing to provide assistance and steer me in the right direction. I was able to get a solid grasp on the language, which was further reinforced when I studied abroad in Campeche, Mexico, for a semester. Not only was I able to continue my Spanish language abilities, I was also able to experience a new culture and gain valuable cross-cultural experience.
Everything I learned in my Spanish classes turned out to be absolutely invaluable. After graduation, I was hired as an International Student Advisor at Dalhousie University. My main responsibilities include providing immigration advice and co-ordinating welcome programs for new international students. I find that besides the obvious advantage of being able to converse with Spanish-speaking students, my Spanish classes and study abroad experience have helped me build other intercultural communication skills, skills which are at the core of the international education field. I'm better prepared for a job market that values the ability to communicate across multiple cultures and I'm also able to use what I learned to assist students with making the transition from one learning environment to another."
Christine Cooper, BA 2012, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Spanish
"I graduated in 2012 with Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Spanish and Latin American Studies. I was able to get my first experience living abroad through the Spanish Department's semester exchange to Salamanca, Spain, and also spent an eye-opening two weeks in Cuba as a participant in the Cuba Intensive Programme offered through the IDS department. I have used my Spanish as a volunteer for several organizations including Kiva Microfunds, for whom I have also volunteered as a translation team leader (overseeing other volunteer translators) for the past two years. Near the end of my degree, my love of Spanish and desire to use it in a volunteer capacity led me to the Halifax Refugee Clinic, where I started off as a volunteer translator and interpreter. After observing the work of the lawyers at the Clinic, I decided that I wanted to become a lawyer and work in the human rights field. I undertook a legal research internship with the Clinic after graduation, and this solidified my desire to be a lawyer. I am writing this in the summer of 2014 from my apartment in La Paz, Bolivia. I have just completed my first year of law school and am interning with International Justice Mission, a human rights organization, for the summer. My work is entirely in Spanish; I would not have had this opportunity without having first followed my passion for languages in my undergraduate degree. In fact, I may never have been exposed to human rights legal work if not for my initial interest in Spanish translating.
I remember the professors and staff of the Spanish and Latin American Studies Department at Dal for their warmth, energy, and passion for their students and their material. I am very glad to have been a part of this department, and would not be where I am today (literally!) without the education I obtained at Dal."
“Even though I did not Major in Spanish, nor did I get a Minor in it, I took most of my electives in this subject because I was interested in exploring Latin American history and its literature.
Although I’m Latin-American myself, I can honestly say that I didn’t know half the things I learned in my classes at the Spanish Department at Dalhousie University.
It was precisely these classes and its professors that awakened an even greater interest which is why I kept on exploring the language. I did a Master’s degree in ELE (Español como lengua extranjera/Spanish as a Foreign Language) at a university in Madrid. Currently, I live in Hanover, Germany, where I’ve had the opportunity to teach at Leibniz Universität.”
Matilde de Antueno, BSc 2008, Major in Biology with a Minor in Business; MBA 2011, Corporate Residency
“I completed both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree at Dalhousie. During my time there, I took various Spanish courses and enjoyed all of them. My family is originally from Argentina, but I moved to Canada when I was very young so my Spanish skills needed work. Being involved with the Spanish Department at Dalhousie allowed me to not only learn the language, but also made me feel not so far away from my family, as the professors work hard to teach you the language skills and also ensure you understand and get immersed in the Spanish culture.
Between my two degrees, I took some time and went to work in Spain for a year teaching English at an elementary school. I can easily say this was the best time of my life! The Spanish courses I took at Dalhousie allowed me to feel comfortable when speaking Spanish and made the transition much easier.
Knowing Spanish has also changed my career path. I was offered a position at a very well-known multinational food manufacturing company simply because I spoke Spanish. Throughout my time with the company, I got to travel to various Spanish-speaking countries, such as Colombia and Mexico. I now continue to work in the food manufacturing industry because of this opportunity.
I consider knowing Spanish to be an asset not only for my resume, but also in my personal life. I recommend it to everyone!”
Kathryn Dingle, Ba 2005, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Spanish
“After graduating from Dalhousie with a combined Spanish / International Development BA in 2005, I worked in Nicaragua for a year as an intern with a community development organization. My Spanish was invaluable: the quality of my written Spanish was thanks to translation and advanced grammar classes, as well as the DELE exam taken through the department. The opportunity I had to be immersed in the language and a new culture through the Campeche, Mexico, exchange was excellent preparation for connecting to communities in Nicaragua.
The Central America and Mexico history class I took gave me an excellent base from which I continue to learn. For the past five years, I’ve been working as a co-manager at Inter Pares, an Ottawa-based international social justice organization. I use my Spanish frequently with our visiting partners from Latin America, when I travel to the region, and at events and lectures regarding Latin American solidarity and international cooperation.”
Jon Eden, BA 2010, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Economics
"While I did my ‘Combined Honour’s’ in ‘International Development Studies and Economics’, the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies was an integral part of my academic success and more importantly it helped shape me into a better person. This was especially true during my first and second year as a young student at Dalhousie, who was new to Canada and the Maritimes. The department treated me like I was family. This was true from the receptionist, who always treated me kindly, to my Spanish language professor, who did an excellent job in teaching me the basics of Spanish and never becoming impatient. Finally, who can forget the knowledgeable Latin America expert, who passionately taught me courses on Latin America and more importantly, helped me out beyond the classroom with life decisions, to the point where he became somewhat of a role model to me.
Through the department I had the unique opportunity to do a student exchange to Mexico, which was a life-changing experience and one that I would never want to have missed. Since I had learned sufficient Spanish through my time both in Mexico and through various Spanish courses, I also had the opportunity to do another exchange; this time to Cuba. This was another eye-opening experience that I never could have realized without having learned Spanish. Later on in life these global travel experiences and language skills opened up various doors. I was able to do an internship at the German Consulate in Toronto during the G8/G20 summit, as well as work at the Canadian embassy in Berlin, largely due to the fact that I had these unique experiences on my resume that distinguished me from other candidates. Now I work for an international tech company, who hired me mainly for my language skills and my ability to serve a global customer base. When I am asked what the single-most important learning experience was during my undergraduate experience, I always mention my two exchanges that were made possible through the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies."
Sande Ewart, BA 2003, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Spanish
"From 1999 to 2003, I studied International Development Studies (IDS) and Spanish at Dal, which allowed me to focus on Latin America and the Caribbean both during my studies and since graduating. One of the best aspects of Dal's Spanish program is that it provides opportunities to study abroad in Spanish-speaking countries, which really helps students nail down their linguistic skills. I took part in two such exchanges and this proved to be one of the best decisions I made during my university career. Upon graduation, the fact that I could indicate on my CV that I can speak Spanish began to bear fruit immediately, as I was able to secure an internship in El Salvador upon graduation in 2003. This experience opened doors to further professional opportunities, ultimately leading me to a career with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, which I continue to work on Latin America and the Caribbean. I have spent the past six years managing Canada's diplomatic relations with various countries in the Americas and my ability to communicate with local diplomats in Spanish and to have free flowing discussions of issues that advance Canada's interests during country visits provides a degree of understanding that simply cannot be achieved when one has to rely on interpretation. Dal's Spanish program has been instrumental to my career advancement with Foreign Affairs, and I wish it and its students many more years of success."
Rachael Gardiner, BA 2014, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Spanish
"I am currently living in Jaen, Spain, working as an 'auxiliare de conversacion' through the North American Language and Culture Assistants program. I love my school, and I feel so lucky to have been placed with such supportive and positive students and colleagues! Within my job I teach bilingual classes alongside regular classroom teachers, and work with small groups of students in an effort to improve their English speaking skills.
I appreciated the Spanish program at Dal most for its small class sizes, which really made it possible to know all of the wonderful professors. Thank you for challenging me and sparking my interest in the Spanish language, which has taken me to such interesting places!"
Alysse Glick, BA 2013, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Political Science
Having originally signed up for an Arabic language class in her first year of university, Alysse quickly opted for a Spanish option, finding the allure of South America and Spain much more enticing. Had it not been for the incredible energy, commitment and teaching in her introduction to Spanish class, Alysse wouldn’t have been so inclined to stay with this course of study after her language credit had been fulfilled. By the time her foundation in the language had been laid and an email went out describing a semester abroad in Mexico, there was no turning back. She spend three months living with a family in Campeche, Mexico, traveling and exploring the mountains of Chiapa, the west coast history of Oaxaca, the magic of the Mayan Riviera and everywhere in between.
Immediately following graduation, Alysse and a fellow Campeche exchange student ventured back to Mexico City. From there, they traveled along the coast of Mexico to Guatemala and spent the summer volunteering at a grassroots initiative, living at an orphanage as youth mentors and connecting to the culture through the common language of Spanish. Building upon these experiences, the most recent adventure for Alysse was Ecuador, where English is seldom found and Spanish proved essential to the success of the trip. Had it not been for the invaluable years spent learning Spanish at Dalhousie, the most memorable experiences of her life would not be memories she holds today.
Currently, Alysse works for the Royal Bank of Canada as a multi-disciplinary Associate, employing her language skills to advise clients, connect with other employees and add value to the company.
She attributes her closest friends and best stories to those years spent studying, practicing and living the Spanish language.
Arielle Goldschlager, BA 2012, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Spanish
"My experiences in the Dalhousie Spanish and Latin American Studies Department opened up my heart and soul to the Spanish language and the culture in both Latin America and Spain. I spent one semester in Mexico and one in Cuba, and continued to be involved as the President of the Spanish Society during the academic year. Since I was studying Spanish, I was able to find a job in Halifax at a Latin American restaurant, where I learned about cuisine and practiced my Spanish on weekends. After graduating, I flew the coop to Madrid, where I have been teaching English for two years in the bustling, vibrant city that truly never sleeps. I am often asked if I am indeed from Madrid or from Andalusia which is an enormous compliment and would never happen if it weren't for my studies at Dalhousie and my exchange experiences. Since living in Madrid, I have traveled all over Spain, Europe, and have taken vacations to Turkey and Thailand. Being in Spain also gave me the chance to walk over 900km on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, once from southern France (900km) and this past summer from Porto, Portugal (240km). My Spanish level is completely fluent and I know it will be a great asset while searching for new career opportunities. The world truly is your oyster when you have the ability to cross-culturally communicate and with English and Spanish on your side, the relationships and connections are utterly endless."
Rebecca Hsu, BA 2013, Honours in International Development Studies
“Over the last month, I have been staying at a hostel in Peru, helping with reservations, teaching English to staff and learning more Spanish in exchange for room and board. I try to take in as much of the local culture and meet new people when I have time off. I plan to stay here for a couple more months, and will make my way up to Costa Rica afterwards to work on an herbal medicine farm/clinic in January. It’s been a period of great growth and discovery that I know will benefit me later on, whether academically or professionally. I wouldn’t have had the confidence or the motivation to seek out these opportunities abroad if it weren’t for the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies.
I graduated from Dal in 2013, with a BA Hons in International Development Studies and History. On recommendation of a friend, I took several Latin American/Spanish studies classes during my last two years at school. I still think of those classes as some of the most challenging, intellectually stimulating, and relevant classes I could have taken during university. With these classes (Spanish language and classes on the socio-economic/political landscape of Latin America) I found the focus that I needed with my degree, and the focus I aim to take to my future studies after traveling.
To me, the most unique thing about this department and the classes it offers is that it encourages and enables students to combine theory and classroom learning with lived cultural experiences. I graduated with the intellectual tools needed to navigate my areas of interest, but also with the confidence of having had practical knowledge with Spanish language and cultural understanding.”
Ken Hwang, BA 1993, Major in English with a Minor in Spanish
“I graduated from Dalhousie University with a Major in English and a Minor in Spanish. In addition to learning the Spanish language, I took courses in Latin American film, literature, and Cuban studies. My understanding of the language and Latin American culture would prove valuable while I was studying at McGill University (MBA program), as some of my classmates came from Latin American countries. I currently work at Leger Marketing, which is mainly in French and English, but on occasion I have been called upon to proof-read a Spanish translation.
On a personal note, I traveled to Madrid and Barcelona after the 2010 World Cup. Knowing the language made the trip even more enjoyable, as I was able to converse with the locals and read Spanish. So in many ways, I have benefited from learning Spanish at Dal. I would recommend it to any student, regardless of their specialization.”
Kenneth Ingram, BA 2007, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Spanish
"Learning Spanish as a second language helped to prepare me for many challenging, exciting opportunities since graduation. I was chosen to represent the Canadian Armed Forces on a maritime security course hosted in Buenos Aires, Argentina, shortly after I finished the Cuba Semester Program in Havana (2006). My familiarity with Spanish allowed me to collaborate with military officials from seven Spanish-speaking countries on a variety of defense-related topics.
Perhaps most of all, studies in Spanish have provided me with a greater awareness and appreciation for language and cultural differences. Applying that knowledge has allowed me to overcome barriers and to build confidence in a number of multinational environments including Afghanistan, Bahrain, and Cambodia.
Spanish continues to enrich my life in unexpected ways, proving to be a valuable asset not limited to travel and work overseas. For example, just last week I overheard a Mexican couple whom were lost during their first visit to Ottawa. It was a genuine pleasure to help them and to also see their expression of surprise -- then relief -- when I greeted them in their first language."
Kenneth Ingram graduated from Dal in 2007, earning a BA with Honours in International Development Studies and Spanish. He is a member of the Canadian Forces Naval Reserve and also works as a freelance journalist.
Karen Javorski, BA 2009, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Spanish
“I graduated from Dal in 2009 with a Combined Honours BA in International Development Studies and Spanish, after which I knew I wasn’t quite finished with studying but took a year off to gain more work experience in the field. I moved to a city just outside of Managua, Nicaragua, and worked with a women’s human rights organization that focuses on combating domestic violence by providing direct support to victims of domestic abuse and training local volunteers to hold capacity building workshops on locally relevant human rights issues. Although there were many challenges along the way, being part of a very small staff in a community-based organization meant I had the opportunity to do a little bit of everything, from accompanying women to the police station to facilitating workshops to writing grant proposals and helping with translation and even website maintenance. I then moved to London, UK, to do a MA in Human Rights at University College London. During my time at UCL, I kept up my interest in Latin American studies by joining the university’s Spanish and Latin American Society and completing my dissertation on Nicaragua’s total ban on abortion and criminalization of sexual and reproductive rights.
Since completing my MA, I have been working at Amnesty International’s International Secretariat (the organization’s global headquarters) in London, where I’m currently a Campaigner for what we call “individuals at risk” in the Americas. This involves working with our expert research teams to develop strategies and resources for campaigning for/with individuals and communities throughout the Americas whose human rights have been violated, such as Indigenous peoples fighting to reclaim their land, human rights defenders being threatened or attacked for their work, people who have been tortured by security forces, victims of enforced disappearance, sexual violence and other abuses faced by migrants, etc. The work also includes supporting our national offices to implement both long-term campaigns and rapid and reactive responses to human rights violations, providing them with the tools to engage activists around the world to take action. The International Secretariat is currently undergoing a major restructure and creating regional headquarters around the world so that we can respond more quickly to human rights violations and work more closely with partners and rights holders on the ground. As part of this restructure, I will be moving to our first Latin American hub in Mexico City in early 2015, an opportunity that I’m sure will be challenging but that I’m equally excited about (and that will definitely be putting my Spanish to use even more than it is now)!
I have no doubt that every step in my personal and professional paths since graduating from Dal was shaped by my earlier experiences with the Spanish/Latin American and International Development Studies departments. I am extremely happy that I decided to participate in exchanges both in Salamanca and Cuba in my third year at Dal; the intensive language courses in Spain improved my Spanish overall, but particularly my confidence in speaking, and the IDS/Spanish program in Cuba was amazing in so many ways, leading me to fall in love with the country and really focus on development and human rights issues in Latin America and the Caribbean from then on. I’m so glad that I pushed myself to take part in both exchanges and pursue a combined degree in IDS and Spanish, it really was a perfect combination for me!”
“When I set out to write a book about Cuba and the case of the Cuban Five, the first place I turned to was the Spanish and International Development Studies departments at Dalhousie both for help with my non-existent Spanish and also to get a better understanding of Cuba and the Latin American context of what I was researching. Their support and encouragement was invaluable and played a significant part in helping me achieve my writing goals.”
Stephen Kimber is the Director of the School of Journalism at the University of King’s College and the author of several prize-winning books, including What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuba Five.
Emily Kirk, BA 2009, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Spanish
"I graduated with a degree in International Development Studies and Spanish and Latin American Studies from Dalhousie University, a programme through which I also spend a semester studying in both Mexico and Cuba. As a result of the experience, particularly in terms of my comprehensive training in Spanish and Latin American Studies, I received a scholarship to Cambridge University, England, where I completed my M.Phil in Latin American Studies in 2011. I'm currently in the process of completing my PhD in Latin American Studies at the University of Nottingham, England, where I have the unique opportunity of working on and with Cuba's National Centre of Sexual Education (CENESEX). Since receiving my undergraduate degree, I've also continued to work as a research (primarily in Spanish) on various development projects for academics, governments, and NGOs, and in addition have published work on a wide range of issues related to Latin America, such as medical internationalism, human rights, healthcare, and sexual education. The experience and training received from Dalhousie University significantly contributed to my personal and professional development, and I regularly keep in touch with former professors, who continue to be very supportive and helpful."
Ryan Koroscil, BA 2009, Double Major in Political Science and Spanish
After graduation, Ryan went to Spain to teach English. He returned to Canada two years ago and graduated with a degree in Journalism from the University of King's College just last year.
Ryan feels that his education at Dalhousie really helped him acquire a high level of Spanish; but he would still like to learn more and continue with his studies. He is now looking at getting a Master's related to teaching, interpreting, or translation. He has also started to tutor high school students in Spanish and that's what really woke up the teacher in him. He wonders about one day becoming a Spanish teacher.
Kaleigh Kuchinski, BA 2011, Combined Honours in Social Anthropology and Spanish
“In 2011, I graduated from Dalhousie University with a combined honours degree in Social Anthropology and Spanish. Throughout the course of my degree, I took a variety of both Spanish language and Latin American history and literature classes. Since graduation, the skills I acquired in these classes have been of utmost importance to my academic and professional development. In 2009, I spent four months working on a community development project in Cusco, Peru. In 2011, I worked as a bilingual customer service agent for a multinational corporation offering technical support to clients in Mexico. Currently, I work as the Managing Director of a successful English Institute in Bogota, Colombia and the Bilingualism Coordinator at a private school in Bogota. I am also in the process of preparing a Master’s proposal for a Public Policy program and plan to research the impact Free Trade Agreements have on human rights in Colombia. My interest in working in Latin American countries is the direct result of my experience in the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies at Dalhousie University.”
Sophie Lavoie, BA University of King's College
"In the 1990s, Dalhousie's Department of Spanish gave me the foundations on which to build various graduate degrees and ultimately go on to teach Spanish and Hispanic Civilization and Culture classes. The grammar classes prepared me very well for the future degree and to publish in Spanish, but the quality and breadth of the civilization and culture courses opened the doors for me to go on to do a MA in Spanish literature and, later, a PhD in Latin American literature.
The professors' passion and teaching excellence fed the spark that I had and ultimately gave me the confidence to move on. I have fond and vivid memories of in-class moments as well as extracurricular activities of the department. Through Dalhousie's Spanish Department, the opportunity to study abroad in Salamanca was life-changing."
Madeline Leon, BA 2013, Double Major in International Development Studies and Spanish
“I studied Spanish and International Development at Dalhousie from 2009 to 2013. I never intended to study language at the post-secondary level; however it was Dalhousie’s language credit mandate that helped me discover the exciting world of Spanish and Latin American Studies. I randomly chose Spanish from the list of languages, and I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. The language came much easier than I expected thanks to the wonderful teaching of my first year professor. She was so approachable, and I found myself wanting to go to class! If I hadn’t had such a positive first experience with Spanish, I don’t think I would have continued with it. I continued to fall into such amazing classrooms that Spanish soon became an integral part of my Dalhousie experience, and I attribute this primarily to the leadership. It was passionate and enthusiastic professors that fueled my studies. Although I sometimes felt like a number in my other classes, this was never the case in the Spanish and Latin American department. It was such a welcoming community. I went on to do a Spanish exchange in Campeche, Mexico, which turned out to be the best three months of my university career. Upon graduating, I moved to Spain for a month to be an au pair for a family in Barcelona. Now that I am living back in the greater Toronto area, I find I am able to use my language skills all the time because Spanish is so widely spoken. I will most definitely be continuing with my Spanish and I am so grateful to the solid and inspiring foundation that I received at Dalhousie.”
Lisa Letto, MBA 2001, Master of Business Administration
"I graduated with an MBA from Dal in the spring of 2001, specializing in Marketing Informatics. Immediately following graduation, I started working for the credit union system where I led direct marketing function for credit unions throughout Atlantic Canada. In 2008, I started dancing salsa in Halifax and became interested in the Spanish culture. In the winter of 2011, I went to Cuba with friends for a wedding and had started to learn a little Spanish on my own to prepare for the trip. That same summer, I went to Spain for the first time to visit a Spanish friend for vacation. It was an amazing but very quick trip -- just a taste. Upon my return to Halifax, I immediately enrolled in the intensive first year Spanish course. I loved every minute of the course -- conjugations included. I was by that time studying as much as I could in my free time. I went to Spain twice in the next two years. I had found a new passion. I knew in my heart that I had to find a way to go for a longer period of time. One day, I noticed a poster on the bulletin board outside the Spanish Department about the North American Language and Cultural Assistants program -- mostly recent graduates (which I wasn't) who go to Spain to teach English on a stipend. I thought I didn't want to teach English, but I did want to go to Spain, so I applied in 2012. I wasn't chosen that year as I applied a little late. I applied again in 2013 and this time I got a position in Madrid (my first choice). So last summer I gave notice to my job of 13 years and flew off to Madrid. It has been quite an adventure so far and I've renewed for a second year. I have seen so much of this beautiful country full of amazing people, food, history, landscapes and culture. My Spanish has improved significantly in one year. I'm looking forward to seeing what the next year (or years) have in store for me in Spain."
If you're interested in getting in touch with Lisa to ask any questions or learn more about what she's doing, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deepti Limaye, BEng 2007, Co-operative Education in Mechanical Engineering
Although Deepti did not study Spanish as part of her degree, she excelled in the classes she did take. This fall she will be going into her second year of study as part of the MA in Translation and Interpretation at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. She love the program, particularly translating and simultaneous interpreting. Soon she will be taking the written exam to become a federally certified court interpreter in the U.S., and later on, the oral exam. She hopes to move to Toronto in the future and balance a workload of court and conference interpreting with freelance translation; and is also considering adding another language and applying to CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service).
Casey Lynch, BA 2012, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Contemporary Studies
“I graduated from Dalhousie University and the University of King’s College in 2012 with a Combined Honours BA in International Development Studies and Contemporary Studies. During my time at Dalhousie, I took several classes in the Spanish and Latin American Studies Department. Since graduating, I have used the content learned in these classes to further my professional and academic goals. From 2012-2013, I worked as a bilingual teacher at a private middle school in rural Honduras. My interest in working in Honduras was the direct result of experiences I had at Dalhousie learning about Central American history, politics, and culture. In the fall of 2013, I began graduate studies at the University of Arizona’s School of Geography and Development, where I conduct research on contemporary development strategies in Honduras. This past summer, I returned to Honduras to conduct fieldwork observing community meetings, collecting archival documents, and interviewing politicians, community leaders, and activists. This fieldwork will form the basis of both my Master’s thesis and the proposal for my doctoral dissertation. Additionally, for the past three summers I have led educational trips of American high school students to Costa Rica and Ecuador. In this work, I have been able to educate students about the history and contemporary political, social, economic, and environmental situation in these countries and in Latin America more broadly. None of this would have been possible without the background and experiences in Latin America that I gained through my classes at Dalhousie University.”
Matthew MacLellan, BA 2007, Combined Honours in English and Psychology
"Spanish studies have provided me more than the ability to converse in another language (although speaking some Spanish has proven a valuable skill). The education I received from the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies introduced me to a culture removed from my own -- but ultimately useful to understand in my personal and professional endeavours.
In my role as the Project Manager at the Biomedical Translational Imaging Centre in Halifax, I oversee the development of commercial brain imaging technologies in collaboration with international industry partners. In this role, it is beneficial for me to understand global trends in health care and the medical imaging markets. Having an introduction to Spanish and Latin American culture gives me an advantage when researching relevant technologies and markets. For example, in a recent trip to Cuba, I was able to have conversations about the Cuba Health care system and burgeoning biotechnology sector, which would not have been possible had I not been primed with a basic understanding of the culture and language.
My travels to Latin America have had a positive impact on my life and global understanding, outside of work as well. Had I not been able to immerse myself in the culture, these experiences would not have been as meaningful. I think any student -- whether they're studying international business, just want to learn a little Spanish, or are anywhere in between -- can benefit from classes through the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies."
Alana Martin, BA 2013, Double Major in International Development Studies and Spanish
"I am so grateful for the four years that I spent studying at Dalhousie, and even more grateful that I was able to be a part of the Spanish Department. I look back on the courses, professors, exchanges, and fellow students I experienced in my time within the department with a great awareness that I am the 'adult' I am today because of those memories and opportunities. Since graduating, I have continued work with an organization called The GO Project, which offers Canadian youth and children the opportunity to experience outreach and volunteering while becoming active citizens within their communities. I spent the fall immediately after graduation backpacking through the UK and living and working in a peace and reconciliation centre in Northern Ireland called Corrymeela. Although I was not able to use the language directly in my work there, my Spanish did prove very useful in making friends and connections in hostels along the way.
As I dream about future steps, I look towards working for the United Church of Canada in a role that I hope to involve working with partners in Latin America and having the opportunity to live and work in that area of the world. I am also a year and a half away from the 5 year goal I set for myself to visit half the countries in Latin America with 5 still on the list, so another trip may be in order soon! Right now I am enjoying life and work in Ontario and looking for any excuse I can find to speak Spanish, (embarrassingly) salsa dance at a club, find authentic Mexican food and listening to way too much raggeaton. I am forever grateful for the Spanish Department at Dalhousie and would recommend students at Dal to get involved in any and every way possible. This department made my university experience."
Camilo Martinez-Farina, BSc 2012, Honours in Chemistry
"I took a course through the Spanish and Latin American Studies Department during the 2010/11 academic year. The course was about Cuba, its history, political/historical significance, and where the island nation could go. Although I was a science student, the course was amazing. It truly taught me a lot about Cuba. The course helped to further develop my interest in the country beyond the beaches and resorts. In 2012, I took a trip there and was able to look at the country with a different perspective. Before the trip, I met with my professor for the Cuba course to discuss potential things to do on the island that did not necessarily involve the superficial tourist vision. With his help, along with the knowledge gained while taking the course, I saw a Cuba that I believe is better than the one generally seen by the average tourist. I left the island amazed and wanting more. I believe this was due to the course I took through this department.
I am now studying my Master's degree in Chemistry, but this course has always been on my mind and I consider it a potential avenue in the future to study either Latin America or Cuba. The course I took through the department really deepened my interest, and I have wanted to take more courses of this kind through the department. As a science student, I believe that these types of courses are necessary in order to receive an integral education from a university. These courses also allow one to expand their knowledge base more than any one department can provide, and to top it off these courses are all very interesting which helps when needing to study of do assignments. I took many interesting classes during the study of my major, but I can say that the best course that I took outside of my department was this one about Cuba. I am very happy that I took this course."
Natalie Mifflin, BA 2013, Combined Honours in English and Spanish
After graduation, Natalie moved to Madrid and is currently teaching English to children through the BEDA program. Since she lives in Spain, she is using her Spanish every day to speak with her students, other teachers, her roommates, people in the street, at the grocery store, etc. Almost all the time! She is really enjoying her time in Madrid.
“The classes I took at Dalhousie University in the mid-1980s had a lasting impact.
'Area Studies on Mexico and Central America,' 'Latin American Culture and Civilization' and 'Spanish Culture and Civilization' taught me survival skills. I learned much about military dictatorships, political, religious and economic oppression, but also about heroism, hope, tolerance, kindness, courage and humanitarianism.
After a year at Dalhousie, I transferred to the University of Toronto where I signed up for Spanish history, Spanish language and took a course in Caribbean history. In comparison to the classes at Dalhousie, the learning experience was dry and theoretical.
I wound up in cinema studies, dropped out for about 10 years and worked in theatre as a prop builder before returning to U of T in 1998 to finish my BA. I then went to journalism school at Ryerson University.
I worked at the Reuters news agency for eight years in Toronto and London, then spent a year and a half with the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia writing and editing. Finally, in 2014, almost 30 years after leaving Halifax, I made it to Latin America – to Mexico where I now work as Wheat Communications Officer for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
I stumble through an hour of basic Spanish language lessons each weekday.”
Farah Mukhida, BA 1999, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Biology
“I graduated from Dalhousie University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts degree (Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Biology). Entering into the second year of my degree, I was encouraged by my brother (Dalhousie ’97) to take a Cuban history class. As a class that delved into Cuba’s rich, colourful, and often difficult past, I thought it would complement the theory I was learning in my IDS intro classes. While I had always thought that I would go on to study medicine, that class changed the entire course of my degree and, ultimately, my career choice. I ended up taking both classes in Cuban history in addition to courses in Latin American studies. All of my elective IDS classes, from my second year on, focused on Latin America and the Caribbean – all of which were offered through the Spanish Department. I was also fortunate enough to be selected to participate in the Spanish Department’s first exchange programme to Cuba in 1997. While the Spanish Department is of course a language department (I took Spanish classes throughout my four years at Dal), it is clearly so much more than that. It has always offered opportunities to students to immerse themselves in Hispanic culture and to explore its history and politics.
My particular interest in Latin America and the Caribbean led me to Trinidad and Tobago after completing my Bachelor’s. My time in Tobago helped me get into York University’s Master of Environmental Studies programme and it became the foundation for my Master’s paper. After completing my Master’s in 2002 and after a few jobs that took me to the other side of the world, I have finally settled (for now at least) in Anguilla, a small island in the northern Caribbean where I have been working for an environmental organization for the last ten years. While the island on which I ended up may perhaps have been a matter of chance and circumstance, the fact that I am in the Caribbean, putting into practice what I learned during my Bachelor’s degree at Dalhousie, is not. I am here because of Dal’s Spanish Department. The positive and supportive staff of the Department nurtured a real sense of curiosity, a desire to learn and experience more, and an aspiration to try to make a difference (no matter how small) on this planet on which we live.
When you’re in your late teens and early twenties, it’s true that you often don’t know where you’ll end up; you just hope that one day you’ll be content enough. Looking back, I realize and appreciate how all those (what seemed like relatively small in-the-scheme-of-things) decisions that I made all those years ago – like which classes I’ll take this semester – can snowball into something so much larger and can so profoundly impact your life. I am truly grateful to that Cuba history class – I am doing what I love in this part of the world because of it.”
Jill Murphy, Campeche program participant
"After finishing my Master of Arts in International Development Studies at Saint Mary's University in 2005, I was lucky to be able to join Dal's summer Spanish program in Campeche, Mexico. The program was a great experience and helped me develop language skills that I was able to apply in my subsequent career. While I was in Campeche, I was chosen by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) as a research intern with the Governance, Equity and Health program. The program was specifically looking for someone with Spanish language skills, and while working with IDRC, I conducted a research project on access to primary health care in El Salvador and worked closely with IDRC-funded researchers throughout Latin America. I later went on to work as a research officer for the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research, where I managed projects that brought me to Bolivia and Ecuador. The Spanish skills I acquired during my time in Campeche were essential in helping me to work in Spanish-speaking countries and to find jobs with organizations working in global health. Campeche also contributed to my experience of living abroad in low and middle-income countries, which helped me to decide on a career in global health research. Right now, I am a PhD student at Simon Fraser University and am in Hanoi, Vietnam, doing global mental health research. While I'm not speaking much Spanish here, the language and cultural experience of Campeche definitely played a role in my decision to work and live internationally."
"I am currently in the Democratic Republic of Congo leading an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) programme which aims to contribute to the prevention of recruitment of children into fighting forces. My time at Dalhousie, and particularly my participation in both the IDS and Spanish departments, helped me get a job with the ICRC -- an organization among many which is always looking for polyglots. Moreover, I believe that the skills I learned at Dal -- critical thinking, situation analysis, teamwork, problem solving, presentation techniques and more -- are the skills that I use every day to try, in our small way, to make the lives of children in this region less dangerous and more bearable."
Anastasia Philopoulous, BA 2009, Combined Honours in History and International Development Studies
"I currently live in Wakefield, Quebec, and work as a reporter for the local community newspaper here called The Low Down. I don't use my Spanish skills currently, but my boss recently revealed that one of the big reasons she chose to call me up for a job interview was because of my semester abroad in Cuba, as well as my Spanish language skills. She said it demonstrated maturity that I had traveled, to such a fascinating place no less, and it interested her that I could speak a few languages. Additionally, during my job hunt days in Ottawa this past fall, I was applying for communications jobs with various NGOs. I had a few job interviews where speaking Spanish was an asset and almost certainly helped me get my foot in the door at various organizations. Finally, Spanish is just a fun language to learn and I've been lucky enough to use the language while traveling and working in Spain. All this is to say that Spanish has helped me tremendously over the years, both personally and professionally."
Jane Rea, BA 2012, Major in Spanish
After graduation, Jane moved to Toronto to try naturopathic medicine, but soon decided to move back home to Calgary. She worked jobs in administration and at local physio and naturopathic clinics. She now volunteers at a distress centre in Calgary and really enjoys it. She also volunteers to work with a man with cerebral palsy and has been able to learn a lot from these opportunities. These experiences and the research she's done have led her to apply to Social Work. She is interested in counseling, community development, and working with the immigrant population (perhaps using her Spanish), as well as international work. She hopes to do one of her practicums abroad; Colombia is her first choice, but she would love to work in any Latin American country. She wants to continue her learning in Spanish and become more immersed in both the language and the culture, as well as gain international social work exposure. She is also planning a trip to Mexico next summer to attend yoga teacher training. This will allow her to combine her love of yoga (and getting certified to work in Canada) with practicing Spanish.
Throughout Jane's journey, Spanish has continued to play a role -- mainly through conversing with others, reading books, listening to music, watching movies, etc. And she continues to strive towards further immersion in Spanish-speaking countries. She thinks it's great having another language, and doesn't regret learning it at all.
If you're interested in getting in touch with Jane to ask any questions of learn more about what she's doing, please contact email@example.com.
David Reid, BA 2009, Combined Honours in Spanish and History
"Since finishing my degree at Dal, I did an MA in Latin American history at York University and am now working on a PhD in Latin American history at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The instruction in Spanish language and Iberian culture, literature and history that I got in the Spanish department gave me a huge head start in my post-graduate studies and has made living in Mexico, where I do my research, much more enjoyable. Most importantly though, the Spanish department faculty fostered my passion for Latin America and encouraged me to follow it into a teaching career."
Kathryn Shaw, BA 2012, International Development Studies and Spanish
"Since graduating from Dal in 2012 (International Development and Spanish), I have started law school and am currently in second year at the University of Calgary. The summer after I graduated was spent in Santiago, Chile, working for a modular structures company and living with a Chilean family. I actually revisited Chile this past summer for a wedding, and showed my family around Valparaiso, CL and Mendoza, AR.
This next year has some exciting things in store for me, all because of my love for Spanish language and culture. This summer, I am heading down to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to work in the legal department of a small oil and gas company. Following that, I am off to study law in Madrid for 4 months!
Campeche was one of the best experiences for me, and I hope that the program is still going strong."
Suzuette Soomai, PhD Candidate, Dalhousie University
"I completed Intermediate Spanish level courses and a course on Latin American literature, between 2009 and 2011, before enrolling in Dalhousie’s Interdisciplinary PhD Program. While I was not working towards a degree in Spanish, I am grateful to the staff of the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies who were exceptionally accommodating and encouraging. What I liked most about the courses were the practical applications of the subject matter – the classes involved learning Spanish for real life situations – and I was continuously motivated to learn.
"I was able to use my increased knowledge of Spanish particularly during my research at international fisheries meetings and at the United Nations. Honing my Spanish skills at Dalhousie University is a decision that I will never regret. Without a doubt, being able to comprehend and converse in Spanish certainly has broadened my opportunities for employment and participation in international events. I encourage anyone who is interested in learning Spanish and Latin American culture to enroll in any of the programs or courses offered by the department. The department is an ideal environment to immerse yourself in the language while being in Halifax."
Sarah Stewart, BA 2005, Honours in Spanish
"After my Dalhousie BA (Hons) in Spanish, I worked in Spain as a teacher's aide before going on to earn my Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of Victoria, during which I did human rights advocacy at a community clinic. I became a social worker and program coordinator at PEERS Victoria, a grassroots agency that supports and advocates for the rights of sex workers. I now work for a community legal clinic in Ontario and am a freelance book editor. One of my latest and favourite projects has been editing an anthology of essays about Canadians engaged in solidarity work with Cubans.
The Spanish Department supported me not only to develop language skills that I'll have for my whole life -- enabling me to communicate and share ideas with Spanish-speaking friends and clients -- but also to think critically and passionately about the world. My education there both practically and ideologically influenced the social justice work I do now, and also enriched my life by exposing me to art, music, literature, post-colonial history, and amazing travel opportunities that I may never have known otherwise."
Jennifer Temmer, BA 2006, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Spanish
“I graduated from Dalhousie in 2006 with a BA in International Development and Spanish. I participated in both the Cuba and Campeche exchange programs. I still have good friends from the Research centre in Cuba where I was placed to do my research. I have visited several times for conferences they put on in Matanzas Province and I have gone to Ecuador with them.
After graduating from Dal, I continued on to do a Masters in Rural Planning. My thesis research was based in Honduras, where I spent a good part of three years. Later, I returned to Honduras to do a CIDA internship with CAUSE Canada. They were running a micro-credit program with the Garifuna people on the north coast. Last year, I helped lead a month-long program with the University of Manitoba, traveling to Ecuador to teach in public schools. For the past 13 years, I have found myself traveling in and out of Latin America visiting family and friends (most of whom I met while living in Halifax) and working on different projects. Even my life in Canada passes fluidly between English and Spanish on a daily basis. I am living in Winnipeg now, but I am hoping to relocate back to Latin America in the near future.
Most importantly, however, I have made friends through the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies at Dalhousie who I still hold dear.”
Jan-Mark Van Der Leest, BA 2003, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and History
"I always imagined that my future career would be with international organizations traveling from one continent to another. This type of life was easy to foresee given my penchant for travel and adventure that was further peaked by focusing my studies on Latin America and Cuba. These were formative years that strongly influenced my approach to research and analysis and ensured that I was prepared not only for my Master's studies, but also for the work that I currently do with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
At CIC, while I do not travel as part of my job, the world comes to me. In my position as an Integration Officer in Halifax, I work with local organizations that support the diverse needs of immigrants that have arrived in Canada. Looking back on my early days at Dalhousie University, I can say without hesitation that the dynamic course work, the Cuban study tours and the volunteer time spent with the Halifax Refugee Clinic were all invaluable opportunities for me -- personally, educationally and, when the time came, professionally as well."
John S. Weeren
John took his first Spanish class at Dalhousie in the fall of 1982. He now calls another university home, serving since 2004 as the president of Princeton’s speechwriter, as well as helping staff and students to communicate more effectively. He is happily married and living in Pennsylvania.
Rhian Williams, BA 2012, Combined Honours in International Development Studies and Spanish
"Since graduating from Dalhousie in 2012, I have had some incredible opportunities to continue using and improving my Spanish in my daily life. After graduating, I lived in British Columbia where I assisted refugees and victims of torture with their cases by providing translation and simultaneous interpretation. I then moved to Bogotá, Colombia, to work with an NGO called the Campaña Colombiana Contra Minas. I spent six months working with victims of landmines, assisting them in accessing their rights and in their rehabilitation process. I am now working with a team of consultants conducting an external evaluation of UNICEF Colombia's projects for the protection of children and youth in the country. Essentially, the majority of my life since graduating has been in Spanish. My time at Dalhousie enabled me to be well prepared for these opportunities, but most importantly it fostered a deep passion for the Spanish language and Latin American culture. Needless to say, I am very grateful for the way in which my studies with the department have and continue to shape my direction and experiences in life."
Alia Yassin-Saied, BA 2010, Concentration in International Development Studies
"To avoid any sort of sensationalism, I will simply state that the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies at Dalhousie influenced my path in a fashion I would never have thought possible as I began my post-secondary studies. My studies with the department led me down dirt roads in Cuba, mountain tops in Costa Rica and over crystal waters in Mexico. They also led me far and wide in my imagination and in my academic and professional career. I volunteered as a Doula (someone who supports women during labour) and was able to support newcomer Latina women in feeling secure and safe through the process. I also gained meaningful employment at Saint Mary's working with a variety of students, a percentage of whom are Spanish speakers. What I truly gained was a perspective into how other people experience the world.
I am truly glad for my experience with the wonderful faculty and staff at Dalhousie. Yes, even the ones who taught grammar."