Laurel Hodges Abreu
Laurel Hodges Abreu

Laurel Hodges Abreu MA’06, PhD’09 completed her sixth year at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she is an Assistant Professor of Spanish. Her article entitled “Changes in Beliefs about Language Learning and Teaching by Foreign Language Teachers in an Applied Linguistics Course,” was published in Dimension 2015. A second article, “Teaching Hispanic Linguistics: Strategies to Engage Learners,” written with Stephanie Knouse (UF PhD 2009) of Furman University, and Timothy Gupton of the University of Georgia, was published in the June 2015 issue of Hispania.



Jennifer Cabrelli Amaro
Jennifer Cabrelli Amaro

Jennifer Cabrelli Amaro PhD’13 is an Assistant Professor of Spanish Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she teaches graduate and advanced undergraduate courses in phonology and language acquisition. She also directs the Multilingual Phonology Laboratory, focused on a phonetically-driven approach to adult phonological acquisition, and the investigation of third language acquisition in adulthood. Since 2014, she has served as editor of the book series Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics (John Benjamins).



Claudia Costagliola
Claudia Costagliola

Claudia Costagliola PhD’13 was hired as part-time faculty at Linn-Benton Community College after she and her family moved to Corvallis, Oregon. She also teaches Spanish at Crescent Valley High School, where she serves as Adviser to the Emerging Majority, a group of students dedicated to promote diversity and to support minorities. She writes: “My husband, our two younger sons, and I live in a house in the middle of the woods, away from civilization, and in the good company of friendly deer, wild rabbits, and turkeys. We miss Gainesville.”



Claudia Garcia
Claudia Garcia

Claudia Garcia MA’05, PhD’07, Associate Professor of Spanish and Literature with the Department of Foreign Languages at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, was the recipient of the 2014 UNO Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on language and Latin American literature. Also a faculty member of the Office of Latino and Latin American Studies (OLLAS), García has led students in the Perú Study Abroad program, which offers a unique interdisciplinary focus in culture, water, public health and civic engagement. With the assistance of the UNO Service Learning Academy and in partnership with several community organizations, she has developed numerous service and community learning projects, such as Gallery Talks in Spanish at the Joslyn Art Museum. She also founded the annual Creative Writing Contest in Spanish, open to all Nebraska students in grades 5-12. Her research focuses on Guatemalan and Central American literatures, particularly Indigenous and women’s writings.



Michael Johns
Michael Johns

Michael Johns ’14 has continued his studies in Hispanic Linguistics at Penn State, where he is currently a graduate fellow in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. Working with Dr. Jorge Valdés Kroff, Dr. Ana de Prada-Pérez, and Dr. Gillian Lord gave him the opportunity to learn new methodology and gain insight into research that he is now conducting at Penn State. Currently, his research is focused on code-switching, looking at the effects of global switch costs on sentence processing, phonological cues in code-switched noun phrases, and the encoding of form and meaning in the comprehension of code-switched utterances. He writes: “SPS at UF gave me so much, and I’m honored and excited that I’ll be able to keep close ties with the program for years to come!”

Nidza Marichal MA’01 worked for eleven years at Oak Hall in Gainesville, teaching high school Spanish courses. She served as the Chair of the Department of World Languages for five years. Presently she is pursuing a PhD with a concentration in ESOL/Bilingual Education at UF’S College of Education.



Laurie Massery
Laurie Massery

Laurie Massery PhD’09 began working as an Assistant Professor of Spanish teaching courses in language, Hispanic Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition, and Instructional Methodology. Beginning in 2012, she became part of the Modern Languages faculty at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, VA, where she published several articles on topics including the second language acquisition of morphosyntax and the development of functional categories in L2 Spanish; two of her recent publications are based on research she conducted, and data she compiled, for her doctoral dissertation at the University of Florida under Drs. Gillian Lord, Teresa Antes, Joaquim Camps and Eric Potsdam. More recently, however, she has been the recipient of several research grants which have allowed her to continue her investigations in L2 Spanish. Since graduating in 2009, she married former Gator, Richard Cardellino.



Alicia Mercado-Harvey with one of her guests.

Alicia Mercado-Harvey PhD’13 is now working in local television back in her hometown of Rancagua, Chile. In May, 2015 Alicia took over her mother’s life’s work, a political and community service show called Contrapunto. The show had been running for the last 10 years on the local cable network Sextavision, 7 VTR. When Alicia took over the show, it was renamed Contrapunto 2.0, continuing the mix of interviews with local representatives, health care and education professionals. A smaller portion of the interviews are done in the area of culture and art with writers, professors and cultural promoters. Since her mother’s passing Alicia is committed to continuing her mother’s legacy as a TV host.



Rosario Diaz, coordinator of the Women’s Association, stands in front of a latrine inaugurated on World Toilet Day.

Cindie Moore MA’11 celebrated World Toilet Day, November 19, 2015, in Guatemala with an indigenous women’s association. The day focuses on the more than two billion people in the world who lack access to improved sanitation and the consequent health problems. The association provided a latrine to each of two families whose previous latrines were no longer usable. The sturdy latrine provides privacy and security to women and girls. In addition, its design traps the flies that spread disease. The association also has a micro-loan project and education programs. It works with Heifer International on animal agricultural projects. Heifer International helps low income individual around the world help themselves.

Alex Quintanilla PhD’09 is currently an Associate Professor at Butler University (Indianapolis). In Fall 2015 he had his first sabbatical semester and lived in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. For the term 2016-2019 he will serve as the Chair of the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Butler. He writes: “My academic training at UF has been very helpful in my current position. I’ve been lucky to teach most of the classes I took and loved at UF (Intro to Linguistics, Phonetics, Dialectology, Spanish in Contact, etc.).”



Antonio-Sajid Lopez (right) marries Carlos Roberto Ayerdi (left), in a ceremony officiated by UF SPS alumn Christina Stokes (center), and witnessed by SPS faculty member Kathy Navajas and Aleisa Zoecklein.
Antonio Sajid-Lopez (right) marries Carlos Roberto Ayerdi (left), in a ceremony officiated by UF SPS alumna Christina Stokes (center), and witnessed by SPS faculty member Kathy Navajas and Aleisa Zoecklein.

Antonio Sajid-Lopez PhD’15 wrote an article titled “«¿Qué vamos a hacer con esas impostoras?» Orquídeas a la luz de la luna o el fenómeno del cine a través de la máscara,” which has been accepted for publication in the Latin American Theater Review. He has been included in a poetry anthology, Abrazos del Sur Vol. 6, published in December 2015 in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic).






Javier Sampedro MA’08 soon to be a University of Pennsylvania PhD graduate, is presently an adjunct lecturer of Spanish in the UF Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Besides his passion for teaching about Hispanic history, culture and language, his current research is oriented towards the ambiguity in the discourse about Cuban culture in relation to a Caribbean poetics. He seeks the connections between marginal literatures during the time of transition to the socialist state and the postcolonial literary tradition of the Caribbean. He also studies the representations of caribeanness, insularity, exceptionality and subalternity within Cuban cinematography of the ´60 and ´70s as forms of departure and rupture with the notion of a national tradition, and as a critique of the ideological program performed by the socialist state during this period, even from inside the official cultural discourse. He is interested in the notions of mimicry, choteo, the language of the absurd, visual fluidity and cinematic exuberance as forms of resistance.



Students doing the Gator chomp.

Zinnia Sotolongo ’14 (BA Spanish and BS Biology) just started her second year of dental school at UF. She was able to see first-hand how important a second language is when she went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic last year. She writes: “Even just knowing how to say “It’s ok”, “don’t worry” and “friend” can go a long way when people are scared out of their wits about a drill going in their mouths (and I’m sure most people can relate).”



Alexander Torres PhD’15 defended his dissertation, entitled Bastardos de la modernidad: el Bildungsroman roquero en América Latina, in September of 2015. Thank to the recommendation of his thesis director, Dr. Efraín Barradas, two very important books defined his research: Refried Elvis (Eric Zolov) and La modernidad de lo barroco (Bolívar Echeverría). Marrying the two resulted in rock, modernity, and an ontology known as the Baroque ethos. Today, the Baroque ethos resists modernity in its dominant form. Rock music also does the same in the face of the modernity: rationalized, market-driven, and intolerant with respect to that which lags behind on the road to “progress.” And there is a corpus of Latin American narratives that brings rock and the Baroque together, taking from the dominant form of modernity those cultural forms (e.g. rock) that can be considered superfluous to it and grafting them onto the Latin American lifeworld. The stories Alex worked with belong to the Bildungsroman genre, which he discovered thanks to the influence of Emeritus Professor Dr. Reynaldo Jiménez. Alex also acknowledges the important feedback that his other committee members, Dr. Luis Álvarez-Castro and Dr. Tace Hedrick provided.



Vinodh Venkatesh MA’08 was promoted to Associate Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Virginia Tech and he is the Director of Graduate Studies in the MA-FLCL program. His research is primarily centered on issues of gender, subjectivity and the urban space in contemporary Hispanic narratives. A secondary area of research concerns the cinematic production of Spain and Latin America. His current work focuses on ethics, politics, and spectacularity in Spanish cinema. His teaching duties include courses on the Spanish language, culture and literature.


Roberto Weiss PhD’14 is currently teaching at Stetson University in DeLand, FL. He teaches Intermediate and Advanced Spanish courses as well as a survey on Spanish-American Film and Culture. He has also created the “Cuban experience studies traveling program” which connects American college students with their counterparts in Cuba and offers summer and Spring Break workshops and Spanish courses in Havana, Cuba. He is currently involved in several research projects which include a collaborative study on politics and culture of the 80s in Argentina co-authored with University of Buenos Aires professors. Lastly, he is in the final stages of writing a book on Argentine culture and the Falklands War which will be published in Buenos Aires in 2016.


Sara Zahler
Sara Zahler

Sara Zahler MA’12 is ABD at the University of Indiana. She is presently teaching at UF in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, and at the English Language Institute as an adjunct, while writing her dissertation. Her dissertation topic is on the second language acquisition of sociolinguistic variation and she hopes to graduate in 2017.

UF in Cuzco – Service Learning for the Health Professions

Greg Moreland

The University of Florida International Center (UFIC) has recently engaged in an initiative to develop study abroad programs with a focus on service-learning and bridging disciplines.

As part of this effort, Drs. Gillian Lord and Marta Wayne, Chairs of the Departments of Spanish & Portuguese Studies and Biology (respectively), teamed up to propose a joint study abroad program in Cuzco, Peru, that would focus on service learning for the health professions. In Spring 2015 they were awarded a UFIC grant to develop the program, and in June they conducted a site visit and finalize the details.


Dr. Wayne and Dr. Lord show their Gator spirit with a Machu Picchu chomp.
Dr. Wayne and Dr. Lord show their Gator spirit with a Machu Picchu chomp.


Drs. Gillian Lord and Marta Wayne teamed up to propose a joint study abroad program in Cuzco, Peru, that would focus on service learning for the health professions.

We are thrilled to launch this 6-week program in Summer 2016, with the following goals: promote increased Spanish proficiency; explore Peruvian culture, with an emphasis on health-related systems; provide our students with experiential learning opportunities in health-related disciplines; and make meaningful connections with the Cusqueño community. Students on the inaugural offering of the program will take a pair of courses: SPN 3948, “Spanish Service Learning,” taught in Spanish by Dr. Greg Moreland (SPS), and ZOO 4956, “Emerging Disease in the Americas,” taught in English by Dr. Tom Hladish (Biology).

In partnership with International Studies Abroad (ISA), the students will also enjoy homestays, numerous local activities, and weekend excursions to Puno/Lake Titicaca, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. We are extremely excited about this endeavor and its long-term prospects, and look forward to helping our first group of Gators to experience the wonders of Peru.


From left to right: Sara Chinoy, M'Lynn McKibben, Margaret Kennedy and Diana Martinez
Students visiting the Cordoniu Winery. From left to right: Sara Chinoy, M’Lynn McKibben, Margaret Kennedy and Diana Martinez

UF in Barcelona

Francesc Morales

Summer 2015 marked the second year of our study abroad program in Barcelona, Spain. Nineteen students enjoyed the experience of studying language and learning about language, business, art and history. Although the coursework is intensive, those seven weeks offered students the opportunity of a lifetime, while fulfilling their language requirement for graduation. In addition to their classes, the students visited many cities along the northeastern coast of Spain. They especially enjoyed a boat trip between Roses and Cadaqués, a town frequented by Salvador Dalí and other artists such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, and Richard Hamilton. Also important was the visit to Codorníu Winery, in the province of Barcelona, where we traveled by train through the network of caverns used to produce the sparkling wine known as cava.


UF Student Amaury Sablon with his pupils at one of Santiago´s Sala de Tarea.
UF Student Amaury Sablon with his pupils at one of Santiago’s Sala de Tarea.

Service Learning in the Dominican Republic

Clara Sotelo

The group of students doing Service Learning in the Dominican Republic this past summer, 2015, brought an eagerness to render service and an enthusiasm for learning. Students took two courses and carried out weekly service hours in health clinics or education centers in some of the poorest areas of Santiago. The students doing clinical work at Health Centers were surprisingly knowledgeable, and both I and the health care professionals they worked with were impressed. Students always wanted to do more and nothing would deter them from collaborating with the tasks at hand. Some of them kept a notebook where they would write down little notes on aspects they cared to further understand or vocabulary words they never heard before and wanted to remember. Those that chose to teach at the “Salas de tarea” in the Education Centers were, likewise, eager to try new lessons, games, and other creative activities.

In spite of a somewhat convoluted city – undergoing local pre-election campaigns, with people competing and rejecting the ideals of their contenders with fury, and a drought that kept the gardens and some local spirits dried – the students enjoyed themselves, and they are thankful for the opportunity and the universe of knowledge that opened before their eyes. Their smiles spoke loudly. “We want to help. We understand! We can always do more. We are doing OK.” They learned a lot and, most importantly, became stronger and more compassionate. Any difficult moments were more than made up for by the satisfaction of knowing they learned and had a positive influence on others.


Students visiting Maracanã Stadium
Students visiting Maracanã Stadium. Seated left to right:
Rebekah Dain (UF), Emerald Snow (UCLA), Ramón Quintero (UCLA), Kevin Funk (UF), Andréa Ferreira (Instructor, UF), Heather Bergseth (UF), Michael Waylen (UF), Cristy Jones (Spelman), Ken Kliesner (Illinois), Mimi Saunders (Columbia),

UF in Rio de Janeiro

Dr. Libby Ginway and Teaching Assistant Andréa L. Ferreira

Libby Ginway at the Pelé Museum in Santos, the port city of the state of Sáo Paulo, where Pelé first started his career. It was opened in 2014 for the World Cup!
Libby Ginway at the Pelé Museum in Santos, the port city of the state of Sáo Paulo, where Pelé first started his career. It was opened in 2014 for the World Cup!


This was the 34th year of the Rio Language and Culture program. Along with intensive language study, the 2015 course focused on Brazil’s experience hosting both the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2014 World Cup. While international sporting events put Brazil on the world stage, they also offer a unique opportunity to examine important issues such as sustainability, race and citizenship. We had students from UF, Spelman College, UCLA, University of New Mexico, Johns Hopkins, Florida International University, Columbia and the University of Illinois participate in the program.

Cristy Jones, a participant from Spelman College, shares her enthusiasm for the program: “I am so glad that I studied with the UF in Rio program. Initially, I was very nervous and timid because I was at a very low level in Portuguese and I felt out of place. However, professors Ginway and Ferreira made my experience enjoyable and they boosted my confidence greatly! From this course, I have learned so much about Braziliatur and I now have a newfound appreciation for the Portuguese language! Thank you, UF and FLAS for this experience!”

A continuing commitment to Santiago, DR

Kathryn Dwyer Navajas

UF in the Dominican Republic is UF’s first international service learning program. Since 2012 we have taken UF students there to work in the study centers of Acción Callejera, an NGO that works with kids, doing interventions with those living on the street, prevention with kids living in poverty, and advocacy around the rights of children. The people of Acción Callejera are from Santiago and they’ve worked only in Santiago since 1989. Neighborhood leaders know them; hoping to save their kids from the street they ask them to set up the study centers. In the Dominican Republic, being literate doesn’t guarantee anything, but being illiterate guarantees permanent poverty.

Most UF students who participate are learning to speak Spanish; they have a couple of semesters of Spanish under their belt. A very few are native speakers. Some have tutored kids or worked in summer camps. There are always several who have done mission work. Our program is not a mission; it’s not even service—it’s an exchange. The Acción Callejera kids are fully fluent but they don’t read or write. Our students teach those kids to read and write in Spanish, and the kids teach our students to speak Spanish more fluently, as well as important truths like the fact that a banana serves as rocket fuel for learning, that a kite made out of a plastic bag and few sticks of bamboo can make you happy all afternoon, that no matter how little one has, it is better when shared.

I have directed study abroad programs for UF since 2002, but this one is different. Students come back transformed—they change majors or add a minor to focus more on education, they take more Spanish classes, they stay in touch with their host families, they return to visit or work or study in the DR. They come out in droves to recruit for next year’s program, anxious to keep helping the kids in Santiago who taught them. They are required to do 36 hours of service over six weeks; most do over 50 hours—it’s a powerful connection. And yet, at the end of the program students used to say “I wish I could have done more”.

With that in mind, in the Spring of 2015 I went to Santiago on Professional Development Leave and worked with the teachers of Acción Callejera to develop a volunteer manual for UF students so they could be more effective, and come home more satisfied with what they had done. I spent six weeks visiting the study centers, filming, taking notes, asking the teachers what they wanted our students to be able to do. I worked with a Peace Corps volunteer—who happened to be a UF graduate from the College of Education—who was doing training with the teachers. I prepared a 20-page manual with a glossary of terms, descriptions of educational games and explanations of how to teach the alphabet, reading, writing, and math. It includes instructional videos, games for recess, cultural information, and the pedagogical approach that Acción Callejera takes. At the end of my time there one teacher took my hand and said “Bring us volunteers who can teach us something!”


Kathryn Dwyer
Kathryn Dwyer


“For me, this is not just study abroad; this is collaboration. It is not about tourism; it’s about teaching.”


This year I am working with the College of Education to fulfill that request. Dr. Maria Coady is helping me find students who can teach the teachers in Santiago. She will offer a course on line and then join us in Santiago for three weeks in Summer 2016.Teacher training is not what it should be in the Dominican Republic, and teachers there, even more than teachers here, are poorly paid. However, they have a vocation and the kids are eager to learn; therefore, I am going to do all I can to collaborate. This year I have also become the faculty advisor for the Dominican Student Association, and they have pledged to teach next year’s participants Dominican songs and games to share with the kids. Several of them want to go with us, to return to the homeland to see what they can learn.

For me, this is not just study abroad; this is collaboration. It is not about tourism; it’s about teaching. It is not just about how we change but about whose lives are better when we leave. It isn’t only about broadening horizons but also transforming values. We come to this encounter as equals, as people with things to teach each other and to learn. It isn’t about a round trip ticket, it’s about building a bridge we can all cross.


UF students in Seville admiring a paella
UF students in Seville admiring a paella

UF in Seville

Luis Álvarez-Castro

Twenty-four UF students enrolled in the program, four of whom each received a $1,000 scholarship from SPS, thanks to the generosity of our anonymous donor. In addition to enjoying Seville’s rich history, beautiful architecture, delicious food, and wonderful culture (flamenco and soccer included!), students toured several cities across Spain and even had the chance to visit Morocco. All these activities, combined with the courses they took on Spanish language, literature and culture, plus their stays with host families, made for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Reflections from UF students on their summers in Seville

Katie Bonti
Katie Bonti

When I first thought about studying abroad in Spain, I never imagined I would actually follow through with it. Me? Speaking Spanish 24/7? I was terrified! I was worried when it came to a three-minute presentation in class. How was I going to sit at a dinner table with a host mom who only wanted to speak Spanish? But just like with everything good in this world, you have to first be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and try something exciting. Seville is a city full of history, culture, and life. Outside your front door is a whole world of fascinating and kind hearted people, smells of jacaranda trees and fresh coffee, and the sounds of families laughing at cafes and outdoor restaurants. On your walk to class you pass by beautiful architecture and incredible sights. When you return home, a home cooked meal awaits by an open window with a warm breeze, followed by a much-needed siesta. This program is not just about experiencing the richness of another culture and the beauty of another language, it is also a six-week adventure full of new friends, laughter, challenging coursework, and independence. If I could leave one piece of advice to current students considering a major or minor in the Spanish and Portuguese Department, I would tell them to study abroad and rediscover why you fell in love with the language.


Veronica Cinibulk
Veronica Cinibulk

The UF in Seville program was truly an incredible experience. The program was impeccably organized and lead by caring, knowledgeable people who took the time to get to know each student personally, which created a very warm and open environment. Furthermore, the fact that so many aspects of this study abroad program were pre-arranged and organized by ISA was wonderful, because it provided me with opportunities and experiences of which I would otherwise never have dreamed, such as watching a Flamenco performance in a cave in Granada or becoming part of a Spanish family for six weeks. The other students with whom I shared this experience were also incredible; we all shared the same desire to experience new things and learn as much as we could, despite our fears or reservations. This lead to experiences such as eating caracoles (snails) in a local bar with my roommate while locals cheered us on, and running around a Spanish theme park, more excited than any of the children there. There is no question that this study abroad program is a once-in-a-life opportunity to experience a different world, to see life through someone else’s eyes. It was more difficult than I could have imagined saying goodbye to our program coordinators, my new friends, and of course, the beautiful city of Seville. I cannot wait to return again one day.


Visiting a Farm in Valencia
Visiting a Farm in Valencia

UF in Valencia

Susana Braylan

2015 marked the second year of our Language and Culture program in Valencia, having moved it from Santander in 2014. Valencia is located on the Mediterranean Sea, just a few hours from Barcelona and with a population around 1,720,000, it is rapidly becoming one of the most popular destinations on the Mediterranean coast. Propelling this renaissance is the Ciutat de les Arts i les Cièncias (City of Arts and Sciences), a museum complex and modern architectural masterpiece that adds to Valencia’s deep, multicultural roots, cosmopolitan flavor, and warm climate to make it a true Mediterranean gem.

During Summer A, 2015 UF graduate student Marcela Murillo and I took 25 students who enjoyed the many features that make Valencia so stunning and who made Valencia their home for 6 unforgettable weeks. This program offers language and culture classes at the 2000 and 3000 level, and allows students to ‘jump start’ their majors or minors. The experience of traveling, studying and living in a foreign country helps students to achieve improved communication skills and cultural awareness, as well as, in this case, an appreciation for the beautiful city and friendly people of Valencia.

You can learn more about their experiences in these bits of advice by watching one of the several videos created by students below.

Hola Estudiante:

Valencia es una ciudad buenísima para estudiar en el extranjero. Es para las personas a quienes les gusta explorar, aprender y disfrutar de la vida. Además, Valencia tiene un montón para hacer; como ir a la playa, comer comida muy rica, ir a los museos y hablar/salir con la gente joven. La playa es increíble porque continúa por muchos kilómetros sin edificios, es muy pura. Valencia tiene comida especial porque está cerca del mar y hay muchos mariscos frescos así como verduras y frutas también porque el clima es perfecto. En Valencia no hay nunca un momento aburrido porque siempre hay actividades que están ocurriendo. Aquí se habla y se sale muchos días de la semana. Es bueno que la gente sea alegre porque crea un buen lugar para socializar y practicar español. No creo que haya un lugar mejor que Valencia en España por todas estas razones.
– Devin

Estimado futuro estudiante:

¡Estoy emocionada que estás considerando el programa en el extranjero en Valencia! Sin este programa, yo no podría hablar en español con tanta confianza ni tendría una experiencia real de una cultura española. Antes de que te comprometas para ir a Valencia, deberías saber las razones para venir. El programa me ha dado las oportunidades para mejorar las habilidades para hablar, vivir con una familia española, comer muchas comidas nuevas y hacer muchos amigos nuevos de la Universidad de Florida. He aprendido en Valencia que se dice la frase “Qué guay” que significa “how cool” en inglés. Quiero decirte que este programa es “superguay”. Nunca olvidaré este programa cuyos beneficios son innumerables. Tú debes venir si te gusta conocer gente y aprender español.
– Catie

Luis Alvarez Castro
Luis Alvarez-Castro published a chapter on Miguel de Unamuno’s poetry in a collective volume on Unamuno that appeared in Spain, plus a chapter on Spanish naturalist novel included in a A History of the Spanish Novel published by Oxford University Press. Additionally he published an article on the intersections of literature and history in the accounts of the Peninsular War (1808-1814), “Mito y realidad en las crónicas de la Guerra de la Independencia (1808-1814): Las memorias del seminarista inglés Robert Brindle,” in Bulletin of Hispanic Studies. He presented his work on film representations of Spain’s ongoing financial crisis at UF’s Center for European Studies and the South Atlantic Modern Language Association Convention. With regards to his service to the College and the University, he was elected chair of the CLAS Finance Committee and member of the Faculty Senate.


Shifra Armon
Shifra Armon has had an active conference year, with destinations ranging from Vancouver to Miami, and from Austin to Berlin. Most recently, she gave a paper at Harvard University at the American Comparative Literature Association meeting (March 17-20, 2016) entitled, “Perfidious Pals: Male Bonds Betrayed in José de Camerino’s ‘El pícaro amante’ [The Gallant Imposter]” (1624)”. She notes that her most unusual meeting was the 44th Triennial Council of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest honor society (founded in 1776). As UF’s delegate to the Council, held in Denver from October 8-10, 2015, Shifra voted on new national officers, and charters for three new chapters (Mercer, Oregon State and the University of Houston). She also voted for a resolution opposing firearms on college campuses. Dr. William (“Bro’”) Adams, current Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities, addressed the Council on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the NEH. Dr. Armon is also delighted to announce the publication of her most recent book, Masculine Virtue in Early Modern Spain (Ashgate 2015).


Ana de Prada Perez
Ana de Prada Pérez has been working on several projects on code switching (CS), or the language alternation practices in which bilinguals sometimes engage. She is revising a paper on the effects of CS on the form of the subject in Spanish, in collaboration with Dr. Jacqueline Toribio (UT Austin). Her article on the effects of CS on copula choice in Spanish, coauthored with former student Andrea Hernández, was accepted for a volume on Cuban Spanish edited by Dr. Alex Cuza. Lastly, with former student Nick Feroce, she has been writing up a paper on the effects of CS on mood selection in relative clauses.


Libby Ginway and David Pharies
Libby Ginway and David Pharies at the Orange and Blue Gala, a celebration of the Inauguration of UF’s 12th President, W. Kent Fuchs.

Associate professor Elizabeth “Libby” Ginway had a productive sabbatical year 2014-2015, drafting three chapters of a book manuscript on Brazilian and Mexican science fiction and fantasy. During that time she also had two chapters accepted for edited volumes and two articles accepted by Alambique and Revista Iberoamericana. In addition to presenting at conferences in Puerto Rico and Aachen, Germany in 2015, she was invited to give two talks in São Paulo, Brazil in May 2016. During Summer 2015, she and Andréa Ferreira developed a new course on translation as part of the development of a certificate for Portuguese and the Professions, along with new content for the culture course focusing on the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics for the Study Abroad program in Rio de Janeiro. She administered the Portuguese proficiency test Celpe Bras in Spring/Fall 2015 and Spring 2016. In the fall semester of 2015, she also collaborated with Luis Álvarez Castro and Victor Jordán to develop a course that combines film and literature of Spain and Latin America taught in English. In spring 2016, she helped bring Brazilian film producer Elisa Tolomelli and Cuban science-fiction writer Michel Encinosa to campus. With the Scholarship Enhancement Fellowship for Summer 2016, she plans to finish the introduction for her book project.


Emily Hind
Emily Hind’s article on age bias in the Mexican novella, entitled “Ageism, the Environment, and the Specter: The Broad Predicament in Carlos Fuentes’s Aura and Carmen Boullosa’s Antes appeared in the literary journal Chasqui. Her article on Fabio Morábito’s novel appeared in the first collection of criticism on Morábito, edited by Tamara Williams and Sarah Pollack. Hind also published an article in one of the first books on disability studies and Latin American literature, edited by Susan Antebi and Beth Jörgensen. Hind’s study of Mexican pro-reading publicity appeared in a volume on The Middle Class in Emerging Societies edited by Leslie L. Marsh and Hongmei Li. Hind has two new interviews with Mexican novelists forthcoming in literary journals, one with Luis Felipe Lomelí and another with Guillermo Fadanelli. In turn, an interview with her, conducted in Spanish by journalism student Amaury Sablon broadcast her thoughts on feminism on WUFT/Florida Public Radio. Hind coordinated a seminar on “Lawlessness and Grief Studies,” which gathered a panel of academics and the Mexican writer Ester Hernández Palacios, whose daughter was killed in a street shooting in 2010, for the American Comparative Literature Association, conference at Harvard.

During Fall 2015, Victor Jordan published his first collection of short stories entitled Provocaciones. UF graduate Ana María Díaz Collazos (The College of Wooster), was one of the editors, and another UF graduate, Claudia García (University of Nebraska-Omaha), wrote the prologue. Students in Kathy Navajas’s Service Learning Class produced a documentary on the experience of immigrants in the U.S., titled “La voz de la experiencia,” and they chose one of Victor’s poems, “Emigrar,” to serve as an introductory epigraph. During the summer he was invited to participate in Dr. Shifra Armon’s class by offering her students a short workshop on poetry.


Su Ar Lee
Su Ar Lee was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Fall 2015. She continues to help coordinate our intermediate conversation course, and to teach other courses in Spanish phonetics. This year she will serve as director of our study abroad program in Valencia, Spain.


Gillian Lord
Gillian Lord is in her 6th year as Department Chair, and has signed on to do so until August, 2019. Over the past year she has continued her research with Rosetta Stone, attempting to assess if it is effective as a language teaching tool (spoiler: it’s not!). These articles have appeared in the Modern Language Journal and in the International Association for Language Learning and Technology Journal. She is currently working on invited chapters related to technology tools for teaching and learning foreign languages, as well as the entirely digital first-year Spanish text she is co-authoring for Pearson Education.


Greg MorelandGREG MORELAND gave a presentation at East Carolina University (Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures) entitled “Certificate in Spanish for the Professions: (Re)invigorating the Foreign Language Curriculum.”



Kathy Navajas

KATHY NAVAJAS continues to work on expanding service learning opportunities for students both locally and in Santiago, Dominican Republic. The oral history project with Spanish-speaking immigrants now includes fifty interviews carried out by SPN3948 students over seven semesters. Last spring, while on Professional Development Leave, she designed a volunteer manual for students doing literacy work in Santiago, so that they can be more effective and come home more satisfied with their contribution. Additionally, she is working with Gators for Equal Opportunity to tutor the children of Mexican and Central American immigrants, many of whom speak a Mayan language at home as well as Spanish and English, and helping to get undergrads and colleagues involved so that these children can be successful learners in school.


Charles PerroneCHARLES A. PERRONE published new segments concerning Brazilian poetry and film in books and journals in Italy, the US, and Brazil. On the creative side, he issued another chapbook with moriapoetry of Chicago: Out of Alphabetical Order. For MLA 2016 he organized a joint session on “The Development of Luso-Brazilian Studies and Reading Publics: Honoring Fred P. Ellison.” He delivered the Global Studies Distinguished Lecture at Temple University, Philadelphia in Spring and once again participated in the BRASA (Brazilian Studies Association) Conference at Brown University. In summer 2016 he will direct UF’s study- abroad program in Rio de Janeiro.


David PhariesDAVID PHARIES is pleased to announce the publication  of the second edition of his books entitled Breve historia de la lengua española / A Brief History of the Spanish Language, published simultaneously in Spanish  and English by the University of Chicago Press,  2015.



CLARA SOTELO has been Clara Soteloin charge of coordinating the intermediate level courses, SPN2200 and 2201. Besides teaching those courses, she has also taught literature, composition, commercial Spanish, and more. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer (Fall 2015).



Jorge Valdes Kroff
JORGE VALDÉS KROFF attended the 1st Florida Psycholinguistics Meeting held at Florida State University in October, 2015. He presented a study which uses eye-tracking to examine the comprehension patterns of two groups of Spanish-English bilinguals (one group in Granada, Spain, and another one in the U.S.) while listening to code-switched speech (i.e. speech that switches fluidly between Spanish and English). In addition, three UF students gave poster presentations of their projects: Falcon Restrepo Ramos (2nd year PhD) presented “The Effects of Spanish Diminutives in Gender Processing of Non-canonical Nouns;” Keegan Storrs (2nd year MA) presented “One System or Two? Effects of Study Abroad on the L1;” Chloe de Crecy (undergraduate) presented “The Gender Congruency Effect in Spanish Heritage Speakers.”

Code-Switching Speaker Series Comes to SPS

portrait of Rosa Guzzardo Tamargo
Dr. Rosa Guzzardo Tamargo

Last year, in collaboration with Dr. Aaron and Dr. Valdés Kroff, Dr. De Prada submitted a proposal for a speakers series entitled “Shifting Between Perspectives: Examining Code-Switching in Hispanic Populations” to the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere Support for Workshops and Speaker Series in the Humanities (2015-2016). Code-switching, the intentional alternation between languages during bilingual conversation, is a multi-faceted linguistic skill employed by many bilinguals in Florida and across the world. The idea behind the workshop was to examine this unique phenomenon from a variety of disciplines.

Thanks to the generous support of the Center, three well-known bilingualism scholars were invited to campus: theoretical syntactician Dr. Kay González Vilbazo (October 2015), psycholinguist Dr. Rosa Guzzardo Tamargo (Novembre 2015), and variationist Dr. Jenny Dumont (March 2016).

During their visits, students and faculty have had the opportunity to meet individually and in groups with each distinguished scholar.

Spanish for Educators – Jennifer Wooten

Jennifer Wooten
Jennifer Wooten

Students in DR. WOOTEN’S Spanish for Educators class spent 183 hours combined in Spanish classrooms in local middle schools and high schools during Fall 2015. The goal was for UF students to collaborate with educators and learners to see how linguistic proficiency and intercultural competency are fostered in classroom settings. Students got involved in the classroom by tutoring learners, facilitating small-group activities, leading whole-group activities, and even evaluating learners’ performance. Such work allowed them to do and reflect on best practices discussed in the class at UF – including the need to provide ample opportunities to use language in context, to critically explore cultures, and to connect material to other academic disciplines and to students’ lives – as a means to ultimately promote and advocate for language learning in US classrooms and beyond. Click here to learn more about the work learners in Spanish for Educators did in Fall 2015.

Bilingual Program

Susana Braylan
Susana Braylan

SUSANA BRAYLAN is the coordinator of our Bilingual Program, designed for those students who have learned Spanish informally, at home or abroad. UF is one of the few universities in the country that offers three distinct levels of courses in our bilingual (or ‘heritage’) track: Introduction to Reading and Writing for Bilingual Speakers (SPN 2340), Spanish Grammar and Composition for Bilingual Speakers (3350) and Advanced Composition and Syntax for Bilingual Speakers (4314). A common misconception is that these are more difficult class – but they are not, they are simply different. Our goal is to help that particular group of students to improve and build on what they already know. In these classes, students make friends, learn about their roots, read interesting stories, and explore our degree programs.

La Sociedad Nacional Honoraria Hispánica, Sigma Delta Pi

group of people at ceremony
On Monday November 16, 2015 we celebrated Sigma Delta Pi’s 96th birthday. Events included a reading of original poetry by Clara Sotelo and Víctor Jordán, the annual initiation ceremony, and a cake and punch reception. The cake was photographed for entry into the national Sigma Delta Pi cake-decorating contest. This event was co-sponsored by SPS and the Beta Rho Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi at UF.

Update from the Graduate Coordinator, Luis Álvarez-Castro

The Spanish Graduate Program, comprised of close to forty students hailing from over a dozen countries, is a vital component of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies. Our graduate students train in the study of Hispanic linguistics, literature, and culture from several approaches in the humanities and the social sciences, leading to MA and PhD degrees in either Spanish and Spanish American Literature and Culture, or Hispanic Linguistics. Moreover, our graduate teaching associates provide instruction to hundreds of UF students, which affords them an invaluable pedagogical experience that they will later apply in their careers. In sum, our graduate students represent the future generation of scholars and professionals in the field of Hispanic studies, while at the same time they greatly contribute to the present mission of both the Department and the University.

In August of 2015, we welcomed five new students into the program. We wish them the best of luck in their academic and professional endeavors at UF: Philip Allen (PhD, Literature), Nofiya Denbaum (MA, Linguistics), Laura Formariz-Díaz (PhD, Linguistics), Hamideh Mohammedi (PhD, Linguistics), and Sonia San Juan (MA Literature).

Furthermore, our graduate students continued to produce outstanding work as scholars and instructors during the academic year 2014-2015. We are happy to share their many accomplishments with you:

Students awarded MA degrees

  • Adrienne Fama, Linguistics
  • Whitney Koonce, Linguistics
  • Brandon Shufelt, Linguistics

Students awarded PhD degrees

  • Claudia Costagliola, Linguistics
  • Martha Osorio-Cediel, Linguistics
  • Giovanna Rivero, Linguistics
  • Antonio Sajid-López, Linguistics

Outstanding Graduate Students of the Year

Each spring, the faculty elect those students whom we deem to be outstanding. In 2015, the awardees were:

  • Adrienne Fama, Hispanic Linguistics, M.A.
  • Sandra Moragues, Spanish & Spanish American Literature, M.A.
  • Claudia Costagliola, Spanish & Spanish American Literature, Ph.D.

Study Abroad Instructors

Each summer, graduate students are chosen to teach and
assist with study abroad programs. In Summer 2015, these students were:

  • Francesc Morales García, UF in Barcelona
  • Marcela Murillo, UF in Valencia
  • Alma Rodríguez, UF in the Dominican Republic
  • Keegan Storrs, ISA Internship in Salamanca

Research Awards

Several of our graduate students received grants and awards to help their dissertation research.

  • SPS Doctoral Summer Research Awards: Antonio Cardentey, Dámaris Mayans-Ramón.
  • University of Miami Cuban Heritage Collection Graduate Research Fellowship: Antonio Cardentey
  • Latin American Studies/Tropical Conservation and Development Field Research Award: David Vásquez
  • Center for Latin American Studies Travel/Research Grant: David Vásquez
Dr. Moreland speaks with stuents at the SPS Major Event ( fall 2015)
Dr. Moreland speaks with students at the SPS Major Event (fall 2015)

From the Undergraduate Advisor in Spanish, Dr. Greg Moreland

Universities throughout the United States are dealing with the challenge of declining foreign language enrollments, and unfortunately here at UF we too are experiencing this trend. I am pleased to report, however, that we have developed strategies to address this trend. We continue to build on current strengths, create new courses, and develop innovative programs. For example, the Certificate in Spanish for the Professions, in existence for just one full year, already has an enrollment of 25+. This confirms that our students are highly interested in the courses that constitute the Certificate, and in linking their study of language with the careers beyond the university.

“We continue to build on current strengths, create new courses, and develop innovative programs.”

Our Foreign Languages across the Curriculum (FLAC) program, which we initiated in 1996, continues to offer interesting and useful learning opportunities. The Fall 2015 line-up featured “Latin American Family & Customs” (Marcela Murillo), “Brazilian Cultural Exchange” (Patricia Infantino), and “University Life in Latin America” (Greg Moreland). Spring 2016 includes a repeat of the “University Life…” course, accompanied by “Terrorism in Spain” (Francesc Morales) and “Race in Brazil” (Andrea Ferreira).

SPS also held its third annual “Major Event” last fall. More than 200 undergraduate students came to gather information on our degree programs, our numerous study abroad programs, and our honors societies. We incorporated a more interactive element this year, which facilitated an even greater level of contact between students and faculty. We feel that this type of outside-the-classroom activity inspires a stronger sense of departmental (comm)unity and spurs further interest in the study of language and culture.

Current Students

Chloe using the eye tracker
Chloe using the eye tracker

Osmer Balam has an article in press entitled “Semantic categories and gender assignment in contact Spanish: Type of code-switching and its relevance to linguistic outcomes” in the Journal of Language Contact. Along with Prof. Usha Lakshmanan and Prof. Tej Bhatia, he is also co-editing a special issue on the theme “Mixed Verbs and Linguistic Creativity in Bi/Multilingual Communities” for the Open Access Journal Languages.
PhD student Falcon Restrepo-Ramos, under the guidance of Assistant Professor Dr. Valdés-Kroff, is investigating the effect of Spanish diminutives in the gender processing of Spanish non-canonical ending nouns (i.e. nouns ending in –e or a consonant: cohete/corazón) in non-adjacent conditions, or sentences where the adjective carrying the gender marking is separated from the agreeing noun. The new state-of-the-art eye tracker in Dr. Valdés-Kroff’s lab has made this kind of study possible, and promising preliminary results in L2 learners and heritage speakers have been found. A second phase of this study would allow us to expand what we know so far about how gender affixation can facilitate the gender recognition and learnability of this difficult type of nouns in our L2 learners of Spanish.

Moreover, studies like this have increased the research interests of our fellow students to carry out similar exciting new experiments with this empirical technique.

In October 2015 Francesc Morales presented his work on Spanish zombie films and their relation with Spanish society, at the Puerto Rico Horror Film Fest. His paper is published as a chapter in the book Terra Zombie, an anthology published by Isla Negra with essays about the living dead phenomena in the Hispanic world.. He also wrote some of the entries for the August 2016 publication Great Events in Religion: An Encyclopedia of Pivotal Events in Religious History (“The Spanish Inquisition,” “The Albigensian Crusade,” and “The Peace of Westphalia,” among others ), edited by Florin Curta and Andrew Holt, and published by ABC-CLIO.

Andrea Villa

Doris Salcedo, “La Casa Viuda VI” (1995). (Wooden doors, steel chair, and bone)
Doris Salcedo, “La Casa Viuda VI” (1995). (Wooden doors, steel chair, and bone)

“As part of my dissertation research, which attempts to elucidate if one can speak of a feminine Neo-Baroque aesthetic in the literature and visual arts in Latin America, I have explored the artwork by Doris Salcedo (1958) a Colombian sculptor whose work is characterized by a constant tension, a lack of unity in traditional terms, as well as the combination of organic materials and textures in order to form dysfunctional objects.

“With the support of the Spanish and Portuguese Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences travel awards I had the invaluable opportunity to attend her Retrospective Exhibition this past September held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Given that the diverse sculptures and installations carry within them an unrequited testimony impregnated all throughout, the veiled metaphors come to light through the juxtaposition of textures, organic elements such as human hair and bones, as well as meanings and forms. In other words, Salcedo’s work provides an unspoken truth made tangible and visible for the viewer to decipher while coming in contact with the artistic site or object. When I encountered each of the art pieces at the Guggenheim I felt as I was looking at Salcedo´s artwork for the first time. Her pieces evoke an ambiguous resilience that combines with a confusing and distorted appearance of the art piece itself; which in turn translates into a type of sublime, silenced encounter between the audience and the absent body, yet at the same time omnipresent in each of her sculptures.”


Giovanna Rivero in Quito, Ecuador
Giovanna Rivero in Quito, Ecuador

Giovanna Rivero

Giovanna Rivero PhD’15, SPS doctoral graduate and Bolivian author was the 2015 recipient of the Cosecha Eñe competition. She describes the experience here:

“This past November was one of the most exciting months in my literary career. An unexpected e-mail sent by the prestigious international short story competition “Cosecha Eñe 2015” revealed to me that my story ‘Albúmina’ had won the prize out of 4,000 short stories from 40 different countries.

“The protagonists of Albúmina” are two astronauts that can no longer identify Earth as their home. The migratory ambition of these two characters brought me to Madrid to receive the prize. Late autumn still exhaled a gentle breath which allowed me to walk the city’s streets and think of the different literary commitments I have been assuming since youth.

In any case, the expansive ambition of my astronauts had taken me, a week before my trip to Spain, to the International Book Fair in Quito, Ecuador. After a long time, I felt like I was carried back to the planet of my infancy. In Ecuador, while the great Chilean poet Raúl Zurita confirmed that poetry is one of the last symbolic refuges of a pillaged humanity, I found out that a black night was hovering over Paris. I also learned that Zurita was right and that to the radically materialist logic of the world it is necessary to resist with fiction, with literature, with the subversive power of the imagination.”

Alberto Escudero

Alberto Escudero (ABD) was the winner of the VI Concurso de Relatos 21 de Marzo with a prize of 3500 euros, for his short story titled “Cartas a Julio César (antología).” The event was sponsored by the city council of Tres Cantos (Madrid). This year there were more than 400 entries from all over the world. The jury was made up of Luis Mateo Díez and José María Merino, both members of the Real Academia Española de la Lengua, along with Milagros Frías and Luis Alberto de Cuenca.

“Cartas a Julio César (antología)” is a store told through the letters written by a retiree to the director of a local newspaper (hence the name Julio César in the title), in the hopes of getting the city to fix a stop light on a street corner he crosses daily. Because the director pays little attention to his pleas, the retiree gradually changes the obliging and servile tone of his first letters to a more aggressive and bitter one, while the selfishness of today’s journalism comes to light.
Alberto has published four novels under the pseudonym Alejandro Cuevas and he is about to finish his fifth. He also hopes to bring together this and other winning short stories in a book, at the end of next year.

Tania Fleming

Tania Fleming
Tania Fleming

Tania Fleming has been our office manager since early 2011. This past fall, a group of faculty worked together to nominate her for one of UF’s Superior Accomplishment Awards. Tania works tirelessly on a daily basis to keep things running smoothly, to ensure everything that needs to happen does, and that what shouldn’t happen doesn’t. We would be lost without Tania at our help. And so we were thrilled to learn recently that she has been chosen to receive one of these prestigious awards. Congratulations, Tania, and thank you for all you do!

Dr. Jennifer Ann Wooten joined the faculty of SPS in Fall of 2015, as our new Director of Language Instruction. She describes her job as “helping us all be the best teachers that we can be so that our students have the best language learning experience possible.” Her current scholarly and pedagogical foci include teaching World Languages for social justice and encouraging community engagement (especially via service-learning courses).

At the Wish Tree of the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“Helping us all be the best teachers that we can be so that our students have the best language learning experience possible.”

Dr. Wooten understands the challenges of learning and teaching a foreign language. Although she was exposed to Spanish at an early age, she recalls that, “Like a lot of students today, I didn’t have access to instruction in Spanish once I moved into public schools in first grade. I remember saying the alphabet, counting, repeating colors, and singing songs in Spanish to myself and with some of the kids who spoke Spanish throughout elementary school. Even then I recognized that Spanish allowed me another way to talk about things, to communicate with some of my little friends, to move my mouth in other ways, to be different.”

One of the things that Dr. Wooten already loves about UF, and our department in particular, is the emphasis on community engagement through the Gator Good campaign. Her work in her Spanish classes and in her own research has increasingly focused on how university students can collaborate with local organizations serving Spanish speakers to further the goals of those organizations while also increasing students’ linguistic proficiency and their understanding of the experiences of the individuals with whom they work.

When university students move beyond the classroom, they see that Spanish and Portuguese are not “foreign” languages – they are used in numerous ways on campus, in Gainesville, in Alachua County, in our state, and in our nation! Dr. Wooten notes that it is especially “motivational for university students to see the varied contexts where they can use and extend the skills they are learning in the classroom not only for their own purposes but also in service to others.”
In terms of where she would like to take our department, Dr. Wooten would like us to explore what she calls “a sort of inside-outside pedagogy” here. In other words, to consider how we can encourage students to further engage with Spanish- and Portuguese-speakers beyond our classroom walls: How can instructors go beyond, integrating community service and activities into and throughout our curriculum, even at the novice and intermediate levels? Dr. Wooten quickly clarifies, though, that she is not only advocating for a traditional conceptualization of service learning, that takes place outside of the classroom. Showing the breadth and depth of Spanish and Portuguese can happen in myriad ways, from virtual and in-person meet-and-greets and field trips, to professional experiences, to using the language for personal growth (for example via creative writing). These activities are happening in the department, including in the Spanish for the Professions courses and courses for the majors and minors in Spanish and Portuguese, because the faculty in the department are invested in and skilled at connecting students and Spanish and Portuguese in really innovative, vibrant ways.

News and Updates

In 2014-2015, we graduated the largest graduating class of Portuguese majors ever. Cristina Villaroel won the Hauptman medal for best major and was admitted to Duke Law School. Other graduates will pursue Law, advanced study in Nursing, and tourism. Bryan Weaver, a double major (Portuguese and Physics) returned to finish his undergraduate studies after a summer session on the UF program and an academic year at the Catholic University in Rio. Double majors continue to be a trend, as students in journalism, Spanish, business, and other fields combine interests and prepare for diverse futures.

Professors Charles Perrone and Libby Ginway continue to diversify the curriculum of the Portuguese section and their own portfolios. They have offered new multi-interest courses in the Spanish section (e.g. Latin American Science Fiction Film, Inter-American Literature) and cross-listed courses with other units (e.g. Brazilian Cinema with English, Brazil Beyond Modern with Latin American Studies). This Spring, Andrea Ferreira is again teaching with us, and in addition to language classes, she has developed a new class in on Portuguese translation. Over the next several semesters we will be developing a Certificate in Portuguese for the Professions, modeled after the successful Spanish Certificate of the same title.

See where they landed


Lewis Curwright
Lewis Curtwright
Lewis Curtwright

Lewis Curtwright graduated in 2010 in Portugese and now he works for Delta, flying to Brazil. He uses his Portugese on a daily basis, and he said that other airlines are looking for Portuguese speakers as they expand into Brazil.

Kiefer Fairbanks

Kiefer Fairbanks majored in Portugese and graduated in 2014. He is currently finishing a Masters Degree in sustainable tourism at Arizona State University. Disney offers a college program that helps integrate college students or recent grads into the industry. In July, he received his certification from Disney.

Departmental Speaker Series

Entre Nos is our departmental speaker series. Run by Clara Sotelo, the goal of “Entre Nos” is to offer our faculty, graduate students, and the university at large the opportunity to learn about and discuss the intellectual endeavors of SPS. Students and faculty from our department meet to share our current projects, and occasionally we are fortunate to be able to welcome speakers from elsewhere. In Fall 2015, we hosted two such visitors.

On Sept. 11, 2015, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, via Entre Nos, held a special presentation by Tania Hermida. She is an Ecuatorian filmmaker who graduated at the International Film and Television School of San Antonio de los Baños (Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión de San Antonio de Los Baños, EICTV), Cuba. She has been a screenwriter and director of short films such as “Ajubel” (Cuba, 1989); “El puente roto” (Cuenca, 1991); and “Alo” (Quito, 1999). She has worked as assistant director of the feature films “Prueba de vida” 2000; “María llena de gracia” 2004 and “Crónicas” 2004. In addition to studying in Cuba, she took literature courses and a postgraduate qualification in cultural studies in Spain. She also has a Master’s degree in cultural studies and works as senior professor at the San Francisco University of Quito, since 1996. She lives in Quito and has expressed her wishes to establish herself in Guayaquil and do social denunciation films. “Qué tan lejos” 2006 marked her debut as filmmaker and got her the Second Coral Prize in the Havana Film Festival, and the Silver Zenith Award dedicated to First Works at the Festival des Films du Monde of Montreal. Her film, “En el nombre de la hija” was featured at the Harn Museum for the Opening of the Latino Film Festival, on Thursday, September 10. (SPS’s Víctor Jordán conducted an interview with Tania Hermida, which you can read below.


Tania Hermida speaking with attendees.
Tania Hermida speaking with attendees.

The goal of Entre Nos is to offer the opportunity to learn about and discuss the intellectual endeavors of SPS.


On Sept. 18, 2015, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, via “Entre nos,” held a special presentation by Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez. He describes himself an unrepentant border crosser, ex-DJ, writer, painter, and academic. An Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Hispanic Southwest Literatures and Cultures in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of New Mexico, he has also taught and lectured at the University of Iowa, Penn State, the Universidad de Salamanca, the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, the Universidad Pompeu Fabra, and at Texas A&M University. Author of three collections of short stories,
Algún día te cuento las cosas que he visto 2012, Luego el silencio 2014, One Day I’ll Tell You the Things I’ve Seen 2015. His literary work has been published in anthologies in Spain, Italy, Latin America and the United States. His academic work focuses on US Latino cultural expression, and US/Mexico border cultures.

Interview with Tania Hermida

Tania Hermida entrevistada por Victor Jordan

Una niña de nueve años siente tambalear su mundo interior cuando al llegar a Londres, a su nuevaescuela, enfrenta una sencilla pregunta de parte de su profesora: “¿De dónde eres?”. Al responder queviene del Ecuador la maestra le explica a la niña que debe haber alguna equivocación porque el Ecuadores una línea imaginaria que divide el mundo en dos hemisferios. La niña sólo logra hacerse entendercuando le es posible señalar en un mapa del mundo su lugar de procedencia, un pequeño país que paranada se asemeja a la gran nación que su padre le ha descrito decenas de veces. Muchos años más tardeesa niña aprende que el tamaño de su país es igual al de la Gran Bretaña.

Con esta vivencia personal Tania Hermida, durante su visita a U.F., un día después de que su películainaugure el décimo primer festival de cine latino en Gainesville, explica lo vital que es nombrar. Elnombre, me ha explicado ella mientras conversamos informalmente, antes de su charla organizada porel Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, define y también construye: crea un imaginario enquien lo posee y en quien lo da.

Son dos caras de un mismo interrogante, me explica Tania, las que plantea en su segundo largometraje:¿Cómo es que el lenguaje nos define? y ¿Cómo el lenguaje hace que nos definamos? Y enseguidaagrega, “te define no solo la palabra… también el lugar.” Y en su caso el papel del lugar es claro. En unacorta entrevista publicada en Youtube por Javier Hernández Toledo ARTS al preguntársele si dirigirá enotros países Hermida se define como una “cineasta muy ecuatoriana” y considera sus personajes y suspelículas igualmente muy ecuatorianas. No sorprende entonces que la trama se desarrolle en eseEcuador que Hermida debió explicar (nombrar) en el Londres de su niñez.

Tampoco asombra que En el nombre de la hija, el nombre de la protagonista, Manuela (en honor a supadre Manuel – un ateo socialista) sea motivo de discordia con la abuela Dolores (una católicaconservadora) y otros miembros de su familia. Es a través de ese nombrar que la directora consideravital, que se genera la identidad de la protagonista y las identidades de los personajes. Surge entonces lapregunta obvia ¿Qué tanto de Tania habrá en Manuela?

Hermida sostiene que sus dos largometrajes no son autobiográficos, aunque reconoce que sí hay muchode ella y de su experiencia en ellos. La directora ecuatoriana destaca el escenario andino y algunas de lasproblemáticas sociales de su país. Al preguntarle acerca de uno de los libros que la protagonista del filmlee, Corazón: el diario de un niño, de Edmundo de Amicis (1886), Hermida revela que “fue uno de losprimeros libros que leí” y de inmediato hace referencias concretas a uno de los cuentos incluidos en lanovela: “De los Apeninos a los Andes”. Evidentemente hay más de ella en Manuela que lo que nos hadejado saber en primera instancia.

Durante su charla Hermida habla de la industria fílmica de Hollywood con evidente ambivalencia. Por unlado, reconoce las ventajas que traería el poder contar con el andamiaje de las grandes productoras delcine estadounidense, pero por otro cuestiona la jerarquización de esa industria, gobernada en su granmayoría por hombres e impulsada por el ánimo de lucro: “el que no haya una industria establecida [enEl Ecuador] es positivo y negativo” me ha dicho con anterioridad. Hermida reconoce las dificultades porlas que pasa el cine independiente pero al mismo tiempo valora la libertad de acción que ella tienecomo parte de una inmensa minoría: la que constituyen las mujeres directoras de cine. El cineindependiente no le debe nada a nadie así que puede manifestarse sin ataduras, “el directorindependiente tiene más libertad” me ha comentado antes. Pero lo difícil es llegarle plenamente al granpúblico debido a la escasez de recursos y porque ese público no está educado para apreciar este cine.

Para nombrar los males que aquejan a la sociedad ecuatoriana, y por extensión al mundo, Hermida usael término “taras”. Al responder una pregunta del público después de la inauguración del festival, ella haenumerado estas taras: el machismo, el racismo y el clasismo. En la película En el nombre de la hija estos defectos heredados son más que palpables, están no solamente personificados por la generaciónde los abuelos sino que están actuados por la generación de los nietos, concretamente por los primos deManuela. La generación del medio, la de los padres, ha fracasado en su intento por lograr algún tipo detransformación. Los tíos de Manuela son unos representantes sosos del capitalismo, y la idea que ellatiene acerca de una revolución que sus padres están liderando se viene abajo con la lectura de unrecorte de prensa.

La transformación se posibilita cuando Manuela (ahora Alicia), su hermano, sus primos y el hijo de lacriada, se escabullen en secreto por una ventana, en evidente guiño al libro de Lewis Caroll, Alice’sAdventures in Wonderland (1866). Es en este mundo de maravilla dónde las taras desaparecen. Ycuando le pregunto a Tania acerca de este diálogo que establece con el libro de Caroll ella sonríe,asiente y se limita a comentarme que son los jóvenes los que con más frecuencia ven esa relación.Quizás ese sea uno de los mensajes que Tania Hermida ha plasmado es su segundo largometraje, que esnecesario encontrar una ventana que nos posibilite el paso a un mundo que se ha mantenido oculto,pero que está en nosotros, donde las taras sencillamente desaparecen.


English translation:

Tania Hermida interviewed by Victor Jordan

A nine-year-old girl is shaken by her inner world when she arrives in London at her new school and faces a simple question from her teacher: “Where are you from?” When answering from Ecuador, the teacher explains to the girl that there must be some mistake because the Equator is an imaginary line that divides the world into two hemispheres. The girl can only understand herself by making it possible to point out her place of origin on a world map, a small country that looks like the great nation her father has described to her dozens of times. Many years later the girl learns that the size of her country is the same as that of Great Britain.

With this personal experience Tania Hermida, during his visit to U.F., a day after his filminaugure the eleventh Latino film festival in Gainesville, explains how vital it is to name. The name, she explained to me as we talked informally, before her talk organized by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, defines and also constructs: creates an imaginary in who owns it and in who gives it.

They are two faces of the same question, Tania explains to me, the ones that it raises in its second largometraje: How is the language defines to us? And How does language make us define ourselves? And then it adds, “it defines you not only the word … also the place.” And in its case the role of the place is clear. In an unacorta interview published on Youtube by Javier Hernández Toledo ARTS when asked if he will be directing in other countries Hermida defines himself as a “very Ecuadorian filmmaker” and considers his characters and his films equally Ecuadorian. It is not surprising, therefore, that the plot develops in thatEcuador that Hermida had to explain (name) in the London of her childhood.

Nor is it astonishing that In the name of the daughter, the name of the protagonist, Manuela (in honor of supadre Manuel – a socialist atheist) is cause for discord with grandmother Dolores (a conservative Catholic) and other members of her family. It is through this to name that the director consideravital, that generates the identity of the protagonist and the identities of the characters. Then the obvious question arises How much of Tania will be in Manuela?

Hermida contends that her two feature films are not autobiographical, although she acknowledges that there is a lot of her and her experience in them. The Ecuadorian director highlights the Andean scenario and some of the social problems of her country. When asked about one of the books that the protagonist of the filmlee, Heart: A Child’s Diary, by Edmundo de Amicis (1886), Hermida reveals that “it was one of the first books I read” and immediately makes specific references to one Of the stories included in lanovela: “From the Apennines to the Andes.” Evidently there is more of her in Manuela than we hated to know in the first instance.

During her talk, Hermida talks about the Hollywood film industry with obvious ambivalence. On the other hand, he recognizes the advantages of having the scaffolding of the big American producers, but on the other, he questions the hierarchy of that industry, governed in its greatness by men and driven by the profit motive: An established industry [in Ecuador] is positive and negative, “he told me before. Hermida recognizes the difficulties of independent cinema, but at the same time values ​​the freedom of action that she has as part of an immense minority: the women directors of film. The independent cinema owes nothing to anyone so it can manifest without ties, “the independent director has more freedom” has told me before. But the difficult thing is to reach fully the public because of the scarcity of resources and because the public is not educated to appreciate this cinema.

To name the evils that afflict Ecuadorian society, and by extension to the world, Hermida uses the term “taras”. In answering a question from the public after the opening of the festival, she has enumerated these taras: machismo, racism and classism. In the film In the name of the daughter these inherited defects are more than palpable, they are not only personified by the generation of the grandparents but they are acted by the generation of the grandchildren, concretely by the cousins ​​of Manuela. The generation of the medium, that of the parents, has failed in its attempt to achieve some kind of transformation. Manuela’s uncles are dull representatives of capitalism, and the idea that she has about a revolution her parents are leading comes down with the reading of a press conference.

The transformation is made possible when Manuela (now Alice), her brother, her cousins and the tearful son, secretly sneak through a window, in obvious wink to Lewis Caroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1866). It is in this world of wonder where taras disappears. And when I ask Tania about this dialogue that she establishes with Caroll’s book, she smiles, nods and merely comments to me that it is the young people who most often see that relationship. Perhaps that is one of the messages that Tania Hermida has expressed Is his second feature, that it is necessary to find a window that allows us to pass to a world that has remained hidden, but that is in us, where the taras simply disappear.

Keegan Storrs

Last summer, I was very privileged to be sent to Spain for five weeks by International Studies Abroad (ISA), a company that works closely with the UF International Center on dozens of study abroad expeditions. As an intern for ISA, I used my experience as native English speaker to work on the translation of pamphlets and contracts, as well as to help and encourage some of the students who had arrived in the country without all of the necessary language skills to navigate daily interactions. I also had the opportunity to volunteer at a local English school called Hello!, where I worked with several groups of Spanish speakers who were learning English as their second language. My experience with both ISA and Hello! were invaluable to me, in terms of developing marketable skills as I seek to enter the labor market within the next few months.

Hikers do Gator Chomp by large rock
Hiking near La Alberca, Spain

“This internship gave me the opportunity to have a lot of fun in a country that I love.”

Additionally, I was able to collaborate with ISA and with the students abroad in order to design and carry out a linguistic research study. This project investigated the effects of studying abroad in a second language environment on the student’s first language. I discovered that, for many of the students, their improvement in Spanish over the four weeks caused small but significant changes in the way they use English, their native language. These findings are very exciting, and I am excited to be able to present them at a conference at the Ohio State University this April.

Finally, but by no means least importantly, this internship gave me the opportunity to have a lot of fun in a country that I love. It gave me an opportunity to return to Sevilla, where I had previously studied as an ISA student, and to visit with my former host family, with whom I still have close contact. Additionally, I was able to take several weekend trips to experience the variety of Spanish culture in Valencia, Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Avila, and San Sebastián, as well as to take a hiking expedition near the border with Portugal. And on a day-to-day basis, ISA afforded the students and me with many opportunities to take historical tours of the city, to meet and eat local Spaniards, and even to play a little fútbol with the other international students.
My summer in Salamanca with ISA was an unforgettable one for a variety of reasons. Other than being a wonderful time with good friends, it provided me with experiences that have contributed to my professional success as a teacher and as a student of Spanish.