Author Archives: Michael Gomez

Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus, October, 2020: Yulian Martínez-Escobar

Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus for October 2020 is Yulian Martínez-Escobar.

Mr. Yulian Martínez-Escobar joined the Department of Hispanic Studies for the first time in 2011 and, since  his arrival, has taught extensively in the Basic Spanish Language Program.

With respect to his professional formation, Mr. Martínez-Escobar’s experience has been both varied and impressive, with studies being undertaken in foreign language pedagogy (B.A. in Foreign Language Instruction from the Universidad Industrial de Santander-Bucaramanga, Colombia [1996]; M.A. in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language from the Universidad de León—León, Spain [2007]), as well as in film production (New York University School of Continuing and Professional Arts [2001]; Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University [2017]).

Activities undertaken in both fields of endeavor, to be sure, have given ample evidence of Mr. Martínez-Escobar’s considerable talents: in the former, by way of his success in the classroom and manner of inspiring his students; in the latter, with the enthusiastic reception of his recently produced documentary, Invisible Hands—a film which documents the experience of seasonal migrant workers in South Carolina.

For all of the above—and much else—Hispanic Studies is proud to name Yulian among its accomplished faculty.

In his own words…

At an early age I developed a passion for traveling, and with it a passion for learning other languages to help me communicate with and understand people from different cultures.  As a teacher of Spanish, I love to challenge my students to experience cultures beyond their own, to promote a more peaceful and empathetic world, where nobody feels superior or inferior to others, and where nobody believes that other cultures are wrong simply because they are foreign.  My motto is: “It’s not bad. It’s different.”

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus, October, 2020: Tomás Cox

Tomás Cox (2021) is Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for October, 2020:

Mr. Cox, a double major in Political Science and Spanish—with concentrations in politics, philosophy and law—has certainly not wasted time since arriving at CofC, keeping himself quite occupied as a member of the College’s Division I Men’s Soccer Team, as well as serving on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (2018-Present) and volunteering at Northwood Church (2017-Present).

At the same time that he has been involved in such activities, Tomás has managed to study abroad (going to Seville, Spain during the 2019-2020 academic year) and even get a bit of studying done (as is evidenced by his appearing on the President’s List, the Dean’s List, being a member of the Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honor Society, of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honors Society, etc.).

For all of the above-mentioned accomplishments—and many other reasons—the Department of Hispanic Studies is proud to have Tomás among its many talent majors.

In his own words…

I love and am passionate about every aspect of the Hispanic Culture! I love the language, the music, the art, the sports, and most of all, I love the people. I’m blessed to feel passionate about something and I have my gap year to thank for it. After high school, I took a gap year and lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was, to date, the best experience I have ever had. I traveled and learned a lot about the culture and life. What I will most appreciate about my time there is the lifelong friends I made and the experiences we shared. It’s because of that experience that I decided to make Hispanic Studies my home at CofC. I wanted to stay close to the culture and continue to grow with it. 

Choosing Hispanic Studies as a major gave me a deeper appreciation for the culture. The Spanish professors have grown my passion and enthusiasm for the language and culture. They taught me the history while polishing my language and grammar skills. But they have also challenged me to take risks by studying abroad. I studied abroad in Seville, Spain, where I saw the monuments, history, and literature that I learned about from my professors.

It’s thanks to all these experiences – Study abroad, Spanish heritage, Political Science, and Hispanic Studies – that I have decided on a career that will help immigrants and refugees. I will pursue a law degree with the plan to do pro bono work with the Hispanic community by assisting with citizenship, working visa, or any other legal affairs. By utilizing my Hispanic Studies experience, I will be able to aid my Hispanic community in the United States. 

Dr. Joseph Weyers’ Invited Talk and Book Contribution

Congratulations to Hispanic Studies’ Dr. Joseph Weyers, who has been invited to present at the Coloquio Internacional de Español como Lengua Extranjera (ELE), organized by the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (Chile).

The two day conference will be broadcast via YouTube:

For those so interested—and why wouldn’t you be?—Dr. Weyers’ presentation is set for Thursday, 10 September, at 11:45 GMT.

Also, don’t miss the “Presentación de libros” session –to be held on Wednesday, 9th September at 4:45 GMT—during which El voseo en América: origen, usos y aplicación (for which Dr. Weyers penned a prologue and back cover description) will be featured.

Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus, September 2020: Dr. Falcon Restrepo-Ramos

Hispanic Studies’ Faculty Focus for September 2020 is Dr. Falcon Restrepo-Ramos

Dr. Restrepo Ramos–who received his Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics and his M.A. in Computational Linguistics and Linguistics & TESOL, from the University of Florida-Gainesville, Indiana University and West Virginia University, respectively—comes to the College of Charleston by way of Indiana University, where he most recently served as Instructor of Record.

Among Dr. Restrepo-Ramos’s many research interests are Computational Sociolinguistics, Language Contact and Sociophonetics and Spanish L2 Development—interests which have served as the inspiration for recent publications, such as “Public Signage in a Multilingual Caribbean Enclave: The Linguistic landscape of Old Providence and Santa Catalina, Colombia” (2020) and “Sociophonetic Analysis of Islander Creole Rhotics” (2019), as well as for his development of SEÑAL, a program for the automatic assessment of Spanish L2 compositions.

Certainly, with such a diverse background and professional agenda, Dr. Restrepo-Ramos has much to contribute both to Hispanic Studies and to its students.

In his own words:

“I am very much looking forward to teaching in the Department of Hispanic studies. It has been my dream to start my professional career in higher education, and better yet at a place like CofC. I envision offering engaging and innovative courses that not only make students more proficient in the languages, peoples, and cultures of the Hispanic world but which also provide them with content, tools, and approaches that they can apply further on in their professional lives as well. I am eagerly anticipating making friends and connections here and beyond and contributing to the mission and future of the Department and the College”.

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for September 2020: Ms. Sara Thornton

Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for September 2020 is Ms. Sara Thornton (’21).

Beginning her college career with a major in Biology and a minor in Studio Art, Sara quickly realized her passion for Spanish and teaching, making the switch to a primary course of study in Spanish / Foreign Language Education and secondary concentrations in Linguistics and Biology during her Sophomore year.

“I have always had a love for teaching, education, and other cultures,” notes Sara—something which becomes obvious when one considers the sorts of activities in which she has involved herself during the past few years, which include the founding of a non-profit organization dedicated to improving educational access for youth in Uganda; her participation as a volunteer in the CofC-led MedLife Peru program, in which she lent her Spanish skills as an interpreter for a mobile clinic; and her work as a tutor and Spanish instructor at the Low Country Language Academy, among other places.

A member of the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society in Education and a Global Scholar to boot, Ms. Thornton has clearly distinguished herself while at the College of Charleston. For this reason—and many others—Hispanic Studies is proud to number her among its students.


In her own words:

The Hispanic Studies experience that I have had has been amazing to say the least. I find myself learning something incredible each day with the departments’ exceptional professors and courses. I learn so much from them inside the classroom and outside during office hours or helpful emails.

While studying at CofC some wonderful professors in the Spanish Department introduced me to the field of Linguistics. I found that this understanding and study of language is what connects people together. Language and culture go hand in hand. Language is the communication that allows a culture to thrive. Education of these subjects is what makes the breathtaking step of uniting our world, making it smaller and more accessible to all.

I would not be on the track I am today without their support, passion, guidance, and dedication. This spring after graduating, I will take a year to teach in Spain and then become a high school Spanish teacher with the skills, passion, and knowledge I gained from this department. 

I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to grow not only in my knowledge of the Spanish language and culture, but also as an educator with the tools to share everything I have learned.

HISP Faculty Focus, March 2020: Dr. Edward Chauca

Dr. Edward Chauca, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies, is HISP’s Faculty Focus for March 2020.

Dr. Edward Chauca, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies since 2015, received his B.A. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (2002) and his M.A. and Ph.D., in Spanish and Hispanic Languages & Literatures, from the University of California, Los Angeles (in 2008 and 2012, respectively).

A specialist in Andean Studies, mental health and literature in Peru, and human rights and Neo-liberalism in Latin America, Dr. Chauca has published extensively on such fascinating topics as “Psicología forense y criollismo,” “Indigenous Medicine and Nation-building,” and “Mental Illness in Peruvian Narratives of Violence” in some of the leading journals in his field.

In addition, he has contributed greatly to the department, its students and the local community, directing some of HISP’s top pupils in their undergraduate dissertations and volunteering his talents at such institutions as Midland Park Elementary School and The Cynthia Graham Hurd St. Andrews Library.

For all of these things–and a great many others–Hispanic Studies is proud to count Dr. Edward Chauca among its own.

In his own words:

Teaching doesn’t come without learning, and I am not talking only about students but about the learning process that professors experience. Since moving to Charleston in 2015 my students have taught me how to better understand the needs and struggles of the new generations, my colleagues have taught me from how to tweak a class activity to the importance of building collegiality and friendship. I have been very fortunate in directing two study abroad programs, in La Habana and Trujillo, and seeing how the nuances of culture and global politics blew my students’ minds. In difficult times, I have been moved when I saw colleagues and students raising their voices and organizing against injustice and hate. In College of Charleston, I have learned that teaching is a collective effort, and the best way to empower young people is to build a community in which everyone is eager to learn from each other.”

HISP Student Focus for March 2020: Ms. Brandy del Río

Ms. Brandy del Río (’20) is Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for March, 2020.

A Spanish minor, with a major in English, Brandy keeps herself quite occupied, being associated with such departmental organizations as the Hispanic Latino Club, as well as with others on campus, including the Vegan Club, the Alliance for Planet Earth and the Higdon Leadership Cohort.

As if this weren’t enough, Ms. del Río also finds time to volunteer her services to the MS Society, Vegan Outreach and the College of Charleston Honor Board.

And when she isn’t doing any of this? She writes poetry–and gets published! Check out Brandy’s poem, “Deniers,” in the upcoming fall 2020 volume of Label Me Latino/a.

Congratulations to Brandy, both on her accomplishment(s) and on her being named this month’s Student Focus.

In her own words:

I am an English major with a creative writing concentration. As a Spanish minor, I take pride in the language that, although it has transformed from the time that my family passed it on to me, I have learned with patience and gratitude. I also appreciate it from the literary standpoint, having learned about writers such as Nancy Morejon, Rosario Castellanos, and the illustrious Sor Juana.

Being involved in Hispanic studies has allowed me to create a better foundation for the identity studies that invigorate my desire to continue learning and writing. With the help of various professors in the Spanish Department, I have become motivated to continue my studies to further the depth of knowledge concerning identity issues and literature studies. Being published as an undergraduate has reinvigorated my passion for writing and in many ways validated it. Literature and Writing is so important, especially in this ever complicated world that we are living in.

HISP Faculty Focus, February 2020: Prof. Gustavo Urdaneta

The Department of Hispanic Studies is proud to present its Faculty Focus for February of 2020, Prof. Gustavo Urdaneta.

Mr. Urdaneta was born in Venezuela, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education in the field of Modern Languages at the University of Zulia “LUZ”. In 2013 he went on to obtain an M.S. in Linguistics and Language teaching from the same institution.

Before coming to the College of Charleston, he spent 17 years teaching foreign language from beginning to advanced levels at a variety of educational institutions, including the University of Zulia, the University of Rafael Urdaneta, and The Citadel.

When not in the classroom, Gustavo enjoys traveling, reading, playing sports, and spending time with his family and friends.

In his own words:

I love the classroom environment where I can create different learning situations in which each one of my students can have the opportunity to share their knowledge in a free environment that makes them feel inspired by their work.

HISP Student Focus for February 2020: Mr. Aman Paintlia

Mr. Aman Paintlia (’20) is Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus for February 2020. 

A double major in Biology and Spanish–with a minor in Linguistics to boot–Aman is the embodiment of a well-rounded, liberal arts education.

Within the context of his studies of language, Mr. Paintlia has distinguished himself both through his being accepted into the ranks of Sigma Delta Pi–the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society–as well as by way of his activities as a teacher’s assistant and tutor with St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church’s ESL program.

Besides this, Aman has been an active research assistant in studies focusing on nephrological syndrome, breast cancer and alveolar research; served as secretary and treasurer of CofC’s Political Science Club; and presided over the institution’s Academic Team.

While the above summary surely represents an incomplete picture of Mr. Aman Paintlia’s many accomplishments since arriving at the College of Charleston, it is more than sufficient to show exactly why it is that the Department of Hispanic Studies is proud to count him amongst its students.

In his own words: 

I started my freshman year in the College of Charleston Honors College with the hope that my Spanish major would allow me to improve my reading and speaking skills, but I did not expect to find myself so thoroughly immersed in reading works of fiction, and learning about the history and linguistic diversity of the Spanish-speaking world.

Even though I was unable to take advantage of the numerous study abroad opportunities offered by the Hispanic Studies program due to my busy course-load as a dual major and a pre-medical student, I was able to utilize my Spanish language abilities to help native Spanish speakers learn English as an ESL tutor and an undergraduate volunteer at the MUSC hospital, and MUSC CARES Free Medical clinic while providing medical care to underserved communities in the Charleston area.

Overall, the Hispanic Studies program at the College of Charleston has been invaluable in allowing me to pursue my goals of improved Spanish proficiency and Hispanic cultural competence. I hope to bring my newfound knowledge and experiences with me to medical school and become an exceptional physician who provides quality medical treatment to low-income and marginalized communities across the United States and the world.

HISP Faculty Focus, January 2020: Dr. Emily Beck

Dr. Emily Beck, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies, is HISP’s Faculty Focus for January 2020.

Dr. Beck, a graduate of Columbia University, arrived at the College of Charleston in 2008. Since this time she has contributed immeasurably to the life of the institution.

In her role as professor and scholar, Emily–a specialist in Medieval and Early Modern Spain–has imparted classes on Early Modern Spanish Multiculturalism and (of course!) on the sacred Quijote, while publishing extensively in her field–e.g., “Religious Medievalisms in RTVE’s Isabel” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

She has also provided able leadership in her dual directorship, since 2018, of the College’s M.Ed. Program in Languages (Spanish and ESOL) and ESOL Graduate Certificate Program.

For all these contributions and more, Hispanic Studies is proud to count Dr. Emily Beck among its number.

In her own words:

The best part of teaching at CofC is the close interactions between faculty and students and the ability to share in our curiosity about the world around us. I loving running into students across campus and, even if they haven’t used their Spanish in several semesters, seeing how they can easily jump right back into it while we chat and catch up. It’s also a joy to keep in contact with alums years after they finish and hear the unexpected ways that studying Spanish helped guide their life after graduation. One of the things that Cervantes wrote that I frequently think back on when things seem overwhelming is the quote: “Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be!” Studying cultures helps cultivate my curiosity about the rich variety of human experiences in the world and imagine the other possibilities I’d like for our future.