HISP Faculty Focus, January 2019: Dr. Félix Vásquez

Dr. Félix Vásquez

Following his undergraduate degree in accounting from the Universidad Particular Ricardo Palma in Lima, Perú, Professor Vásquez continued his education in the U.S. with an M.A. in Spanish from Winthrop University, and a Ph.D. in Colonial and 19th-Century Spanish American Literature from the University of Kentucky. He taught at both the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Georgia before joining the College of Charleston’s Department of Hispanic Studies in 2001.  Beyond courses ranging from elementary Spanish language through Early Colonial Spanish-American Texts, Dr. Vásquez regularly teaches the department’s business for Spanish curriculum that forms the foundation for the Business Language Minor in Spanish program that he started in 2011, and which is currently the department’s fastest growing minor.

Also a passionate advocate of the study abroad experience, Professor Vásquez is an 8-time director for the College of Charleston’s various programs in Chile, Cuba, Peru and Spain. Currently he is founding co-director of a new summer study-abroad program in Trujillo, Spain and in cooperation with the School of Business.  This new, one-month interdisciplinary program will launch in June 2019 with courses in management, intermediate and advanced Spanish language as well as an introduction to Spanish for business.

Underscoring the teacher-scholar model, Dr. Vásquez also manages to showcase his work in the classroom through his scholarly activity, to include multiple conference presentations in both national and international venues as well as related publications, to include his recent book chapter “Case-Based Pedagogy to Develop World-Readiness Skill for Business” published with SabioBooks, LLC in 2018 in the edition Transferable Skills for the 21st Century: Preparing Students for the Workplace through World Languages for Specific Purposes.

In Professor Vásquez’s own words:

My goals as a foreign language educator are to foster my students’ cultural and linguistic awareness and help them gain communicative competencies in Spanish. In my Spanish for Business courses, the objective is to prepare students for successful communication in the Hispanic commercial world by building on their existing knowledge, developing their skills in practical, real-world uses of oral and written Spanish, and emphasizing the importance of cultural practices in doing business in Spanish-speaking countries and with Hispanics in the United States.

The Department of Hispanic Studies congratulates Dr. Félix Vásquez for his substantial contributions to his students, his department and the College, and for being selected for our January 2019 “Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus.”

Stay tuned for February 2019’s feature…

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus, January 2019

Madi Crow, a double major in Spanish and International Studies with a Latin American & Caribbean Studies Concentration and a minor in Linguistics (’20), is a William Aiken Fellow and International Scholar of the Honors College where she also served as a peer facilitator in 2017.  Among her various international academic trips, she studied abroad in Latin America for two semesters: in Buenos Aires, Argentina in spring 2018, and in the College of Charleston’s program in Santiago, Chile in fall 2018.  She is also a past volunteer for Charleston Hope (2016-17), a former mentor of Loving America Street (2016-17), a past delegate for the Model Organization of the American States (2017), and a former Cougar Ambassador (2017), among other activities.

In Madi’s own words:

Over the past three and a half months, I had the incredible opportunity to live in Santiago, Chile, a city unlike any other I had ever experienced! Chilean Spanish, as I quickly learned, is a completely different language, and I loved the challenge of getting a handle on the thousands of “chilenismos.” My family was absolutely my favorite part of my experience. I lived with my host mom, host dad, and two host brothers; I spent just about every day with them whether that be at the dinner table or on the patio playing soccer. I got to know incredible Chilean friends who greatly improved my Spanish. Not to mention, I grew close with the spectacular group of brilliant girls in Santiago with me, and we were lucky enough to travel all over the wondrous country of Chile, seeing everything from Patagonia to the Atacama Desert (the driest in the world!). We even took a trip with the marvelous Dr. Sobiesuo to Peru. I took courses through a local university, and I was able to complete an Independent Study with Dr. Del Mastro on Contemporary Feminism in Chile through which I actually met and interviewed a Chilean feminist novelist. Throughout my time in Santiago, I not only broadened my understanding of the language but also of the country, the region and the world. I am so thankful for the many challenges and exciting opportunities I faced over the past semester, and I cannot wait to see where I will go next! 

As a freshman coming into the College of Charleston, I knew I wanted to develop my Spanish skills and learn more about the Latin American world. Three years later, I have completed two semesters abroad in the distinctive and beautiful cities of Buenos Aires and Santiago, taking fascinating courses and working directly with the Hispanic Studies’ faculty. Not only was I able to use my Spanish major to develop my skills abroad but also at home. I have had the incredible support of the outstanding Hispanic Studies Department who have made this dream a reality and will continue to help me develop my skills as a scholar and global citizen. I look forward to getting back on campus and getting involved in the Hispanic community in the Charleston area as well. As far as my future is concerned, I am looking into many options including graduate school and research, and I know my time at the College through my unique opportunities will most certainly open many doors. I am not sure exactly where the next couple years will take me, but I am so thankful I have the support of the Hispanic Studies’ faculty!

Hispanic Studies Welcomes 3 New Faculty for Spring 2019

The Department of Hispanic Studies welcomes two new faculty members and one returning for the spring 2019 semester:

Jessica Dimondstein
Professor Dimondstein holds an MAT in K-12 Spanish from UNC Chapel Hill, where she also obtained her BA in Spanish with distinction.  She previously taught at West Forsyth High School (Winston-Salem, N.C.), Charles E. Jordan High School (Durham, N.C.) and Guilford Technical Community College (Greensboro, NC), and she served as a Spanish interpreter for the Mayer Law Practice.  She also has prior study-abroad experience in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Tristan Hill
Professor Hill is a graduate of our own M.Ed. program in Languages (Spanish), and a double major in French and Spanish as an undergraduate at CofC where he earned Outstanding Student Awards in both languages. His teaching record is extensive and distinguished as a current teacher of Spanish at the School of the Arts, and former employee at West Ashley High School where he was named Teacher of the Year in 2014.

Yulian Martinez-Escobar
Professor Martinez-Escobar taught repeatedly in our department since 2011, but we are delighted with his return after a multi-semester “break.” He is a seasoned Spanish language teacher with prior experience not only in our department, but also several years at James Island Charter High School, Trident Technical College and at the Universidad Industrial de Santander in his native Colombia.  He was also a very active faculty member in our department serving on the HispaNews editorial team in 2016-17, and producing our now legendary, albeit outdated, promotional video for the Casa Hispana back in 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDJZEKa4LPg

Hispanic Studies Bids Farewell to Professors Shields and Widener

At the conclusion of the fall 2018 academic semester, Professors Eileen Shields and Donna Widener will retire from the College of Charleston’s Department of Hispanic Studies after a combined 40 years of teaching on campus.  Professor Shields joined the department in 1990, and Professor Widener in 2006.  Their dedication, conscientiousness and genuine care for our students will be greatly missed as we wish them the best for the next stages in their lives, and we thank them for all they have done, for so long, for our Department of Hispanic Studies.

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus, December 2018

Alexandra Mielcarek, a double major in Spanish and Public Health (’20), is a student of the Honors College where she serves as an Honors Engaged Liaison since August 2017.  She is currently Vice President of the Public Health Society Executive Board and its past Treasurer and Public Relations Chair, and she is also a member of the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, Photographer and Strategist for The Rival at CofC, and an Intern with the Women’s Health Research Team, among other activities.

In Alex’s own words:

Majoring in Spanish has allowed me to pursue one of my core passions: achieving a more complete understanding of others. CofC’s Spanish courses not only teach you how to communicate effectively with Spanish speakers, but I have also found cultural and historical insights throughout each class (even when learning how to write). The best thing about CofC compared to other universities is that CofC has some of the most dedicated professors, each of whom is so passionate about their subject(s) and students that they make the effort to ensure every student has a complete understanding of the material. After graduating from CofC, I will take this knowledge with me into my Masters of Public Health in Sociomedical Sciences where I will include Spanish-speaking populations in my research and outreach, hopefully impacting the health of communities by increasing understanding.

HISP Faculty Focus, December 2018: Professor Stephanie Forgash

Professor Stephanie Forgash

Upon completion of her B.A. in Spanish at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Professor Forgash continued with an M.A. in the same area and at the same institution, and then spent a year teaching Spanish language at Central Piedmont and Rown Cabarrus Community Colleges respectively.  She then moved to Viña del Mar, Chile, where she taught English for a year to the Chilean Navy, and then returned to the U.S. in 2017 to begin her current position as an Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Hispanic Studies.  Beyond the classroom, she is also an active member of the department’s Basic Spanish Language Program Steering Committee, and an active collaborator in Hispanic Studies’ distance education curriculum.

In Professor Forgash’s own words:

I feel extremely privileged to work alongside so many talented students and faculty members in the Hispanic Studies Department. For me, reminiscing on my own personal Spanish journey and seeing it transpire through my students’ experiences is the most rewarding thing about being an educator. At the end of the day I am someone who has lived the life, traveled the journeys, and learned the lessons and only aim to serve as a compass and road map for those who will follow. Whether it is through the various levels of Spanish I teach or trying to develop new testing strategies with the BSLP Steering Committee, I am always learning, and that is truly why I love what I do.

The Department of Hispanic Studies congratulates Professor Stephanie Forgash for her various contributions and for being selected for our December “Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus.”

Stay tuned for January 2019’s feature…

Dr. Martínez-Gibson’s Study Published in Fall 2016-17 Issue of _MIFLC Review_

Professor Elizabeth Martínez-Gibson’s essay “Por la Calle de Alcalá: The Languages Used in Storefront Signs along Madrid’s Longest Street” has just been published in Volume 18, Fall 2016-17 issue of the MIFLC Review.

Exciting events in Hispanic Studies

Check out some of the exciting things that have been happening in Hispanic Studies!

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus, November 2018

James Riggs, a Biology major and a Portuguese and Brazilian Studies Minor (’19), is a First Year Experience Peer Facilitator and Team Leader, Treasurer of the Portuguese Club, Board Member for CougarCon, Vice President of the Catholic Student Association, Founding President of the Doctor Who Club, and accordionist for the College of Charleston Pep Band, among other activities.  His excellence in leadership earned him the college-wide New Student Leader Award in 2016, and for his exemplary performance in the Hispanic Studies’ Portuguese Program, he was awarded the Outstanding Student of Portuguese in 2017.

In James’ own words:

With her first language being Português, my mother was the first in her family born in the USA. Unfortunately, by the time of my interest in our culture, my mother and grandparents were no longer effectively using the language. One of the primary reasons that I chose to become a student at the College of Charleston was the offering of the Portuguese language. Despite being able to transfer my Spanish credits from the International Baccalaureate Program, I chose to instead investigate Portuguese. Dr. Luci and Professor José Moreira were most gracious to my desire to learn the variant spoken in Portugal, often pointing out when there were differences between the Brazilian and European dialects. I conducted Duolingo competitions with my colleagues; I have served as Secretary, President, and now Treasurer for the Portuguese Club, and I have worked as a Peer Facilitator for the Portuguese First Year Experience. I am now even able to conduct conversations with my grandparents, and recently my mother, over the telephone! The more I advanced through the courses, the more I wanted students to be able to minor in Portuguese. I started a petition to demonstrate that other students were also interested. After a long process, the Portuguese and Brazilian Studies minor is now available at the College! The Portuguese minor pairs well with my Biology major due to my focus in Entomology. With Portuguese in my arsenal, I will have the opportunity to explore and work with others in the field from around the world, especially in Brazil where the diversity of insects is exceedingly vast. While I have never gotten to partake in a study abroad, by having studied Portuguese at the College of Charleston I finally will have the opportunity, for I will be leaving the country for my first time to visit Portugal with my family in the summer of 2019!