Embracing history and culture in Spanish speaking countries

Ye Li '11, Graduate Student

Ye Li '11 in Spain when she studied abroad.

Ye Li '11, Graduate Student

Majors: Spanish, Economics/Mathematics Special Major

Honors Thesis: Criterios de evaluación de materiales didácticos para la enseñanza y el aprendizaje del contraste pretérito/imperfecto en español como L2

Community Based Organization: Enlace de Famlias and William R. Peck School, Holyoke, MA

Study Abroad Program: CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts, Spain

Graduate Program: MA in Technology, Innovation and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

My Spanish major has always had a special place in my heart. I have enjoyed learning the language from the first day of the introductory class I took with Esther. I have learned to appreciate the history and culture in Spanish-speaking countries through taking classes with Nieves, Rogelio and Justin. I have also embraced the opportunity to cross-register at UMass and learn about different linguistic varieties spoken in Latin American countries.

Collectively, these classes showed me how I can connect with the bigger, real world.

When I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain in my sophomore year, I took every opportunity to experience the many cultural festivals there. I was deeply impressed by the Carnaval in Cádiz, Las Fallas in Valencia, la Semana Santa and la Feria de Abril in Sevilla. I even noticed the difference in the cuisine between País Vasco and Andalucía. I also travelled to many other countries in Europe, constantly amazed by the scenery, landscape, architecture, art and culture.

Perhaps one of my proudest achievements during my undergraduate journey is my thesis in Spanish. As Spanish learners, you and I both know how difficult it is to decide when to use the preterite and when to use the imperfect verb tenses. Therefore, in my thesis I tried to explain why it is so hard for us to distinguish them, and what should be done pedagogically to address that. Not only was that a great opportunity for me to research into my field of interest, I also had a great time interacting with and learning from my thesis advisors and committee members.

Community Based Learning and SAW Mentorship
While at Mount Holyoke, I also seized the abundant opportunities to utilize my Spanish skills and contribute to Spanish speaking communities whenever I could. As a Community-Based Learning (CBL) fellow at Enlace de Familias and William R. Peck School, I worked on the creation of a Resource Handbook, which encompassed all types of assistance available to low-income Puerto Rican families, in both English and Spanish. As a mentor at the Speaking, Arguing and Writing (SAW) Center, I also conducted workshops and one-on-one writing sessions for the Preparation for Advanced Spanish Studies course.

Having worked in training/teaching and development in various settings after graduation, I recently started my graduate study at Harvard Graduate School of Education. I am working toward my Master's degree in Technology, Innovation and Education (TIE); and I am hoping to explore and design ways to incorporate technology into language teaching, learning and re-learning.

What I learned as a Spanish major at Mount Holyoke has shaped who I am and what I care most about; and it has allowed me to "go where no one else will go, do what no one else will do".