From the familiar surroundings of New Hampshire to a small schoolroom in a remote Spanish town, PSU senior Heather Dowd expects the experience of a lifetime.
Dowd was chosen from hundreds of applicants for a prestigious Language and Culture assistant teaching position by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Sciences. Dowd, a double major in Spanish and Communication Studies, began her teaching experience last week in Bailen, an Andalucien town best known for producing some of the world’s highest-quality olive oil. Dowd says the chance to teach and finish her degree in a foreign country is exciting.
“It is a chance to complete my degree in a place that I love, doing something that I love. I get to teach English and also share aspects of American culture and to disprove any negative stereotypes about Americans,” says Dowd.
Dowd will teach at a secondary school called Hermanos Medina Rivilla, which will help her achieve her goals.
“I hope to learn more about the Spanish education system, travel and eventually start graduate school in Spain,” Dowd noted.
To qualify for the competitive teaching assistant positions, applicants must have
an intermediate to advanced knowledge of Spanish, a stellar academic record and pass a ‘personal statement’ test with a 400-word essay. PSU’s Dr. Barbara Lopez-Mayhew, chairman of the Languages and Linguistics department, believes Dowd is embarking on a unique journey.
“To be given the opportunity to be immersed in another culture(in Spain), not only as a student but as a professional, reaffirms that we are providing our students valuable knowledge and a strong development of language skills in our courses as well as through study abroad programs. Undoubtedly, Heather’s year in Spain as a teaching assistant will be a valuable and unforgettable capstone experience,” says Lopez-Mayhew.
Dowd credits PSU and the Plymouth school system with preparing and recommending her for the assignment. She spent a semester in Seville, Spain at the CC-CS ‘Study Abroad’ program, and also taught Spanish in Plymouth area elementary schools