As a Spanish professor in the Department of Modern Languages, I would like to provide an alternative perspective to the one expressed in a recent opinion column in The Oswegonian that recommends student save money by not taking unnecessary general education courses such as math and Spanish.
In beginning Spanish 102, a Gen Ed course, we recently explored the culture and geography of Peru. We took in the breathtaking sights of Machu Picchu, the sacred Inca city located 7,970 feet above sea level in the Andes. We listened to Andean music with its unique blend of Indigenous, Spanish and African rhythms. For those interested in Ecotourism, one-third of Peru lies in the Amazon basin, where a visit to Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, near the port city of Iquitos, provides excursions to the exuberant flora and fauna of the region. Buggy riding or sand boarding on the second highest sand dunes in the world in Huacachina and viewing from the air figures the size of a football stadium engraved in the desert floor 2,000 years ago by the Nazca civilization provide unique experiences. So do the attractions in the capital city, Lima, with its dramatic Pacific coastline, word class museums, colonial architecture and bohemian neighborhoods.
Oswego State and the Department of Modern Languages offer GETGO scholarships to students taking Global Cities quarter courses with destinations to many parts of the world, as well as for study abroad programs offered by the Office of International Education. Students in Beginning Spanish 102, who are now able to describe their daily routine in Spanish, have the opportunity to experience activities in a new light, within the context of a Spanish-speaking culture.
Practicing a new language when visiting or studying abroad, no matter how basic the communication, almost always provides a transformational experience. When Simon and Garfunkel visited the Andes, they collaborated with musicians of the region to perform and popularize one the most beautiful Inca songs, “El condor pasa.”
Practitioners in the entertainment field and in any other discipline will undoubtedly be enriched through contact with other languages and cultures and reap the benefits of new perspectives afforded by an international education.
Georgina J. Whittingham
Professor of Spanish
Department of Modern Languages