Hispanic Studies Personal Statement
Despite all the framed photos, I have only one distinct memory of my visit to Madrid as a ten year old: the language barrier. I recall gawking at children my age playing soccer in a side street. Baffled by their freedom to frolic in roads, I was even more mesmerized by the soundsthey produced. To understand their shouts and the reasons behind their laughter was to be a part of their mysterious world. I longed to laugh with them.
Naively determined to be fluent, Spanish lessons made it on that year's Christmas list. After learning the basics, I understood that learning a language is not a short term goal, but a lifetime commitment. Unwavering from my childhood goal, I studied my second university year in Seville, Spain. My ideas of language learning have evolved since my arrival. I have learned that language study reaches beyond a lifetime committed to grammar and word memorization; it relies on understanding the common concerns of its speakers.
Reading George Orwell's personal account of the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Catalonia, I am able to reflect on my own experience in Spain. He writes, Whenever it is conceivably possible, the business of today is put off until manana. Manana, referring to morning, tomorrow, or an indefinite time in the future, is a concept that English-speaking cultures lack. Like Orwell,I initially held onto my ambitious, schedule-oriented mindset, and saw Andalusia's mid-day store closing as inconvenient. Throughout my eight months of study, while my ears have adjusted to the sounds of Spanish language, my thoughts and actions adapted to its culture. The adaptations have calmed my task driven mind and improved the quality of my work due to the Spanish schedule's flexibility and my new respect for both cultures' ideas of time.
Spain's time concept is especially appreciated when overdue library books are accepted with a simple sigh. The lack of late fees has allowed me to keep Rosalia de Castro's Cantares gallegos in my possession longer than the suggested return date. Her lyrically patriotic love affair not only raises questions of the susceptibility of speech, but proves the power of literature in language acquisition and preservation over time. Understanding Galicia's vulnerability to more prevailing foreign influences, Rosalia skillfully uses poetry to preserve the Galician language and has, in turn, established a solid foundation for a common cultural identity. In some ways, Rosalia de Castro, has inspired my decision to continue education in Hispanic studies. Her poetry has motivated me to learn other Iberian languages and to investigate Spain's relationship with their minority cultures.
I believe Hispanic studies programs offered by UK univerisities can strengthen my Castilian language skills, introduce me to other Iberian languages, and further encourage my exploration of the Iberian Peninsula through means my home university cannot provide. Dueto its geographic location, Auburn University's Spanish program primarily focuses on Latin America and therefore offers few resources for my research of the Iberian Peninsula. I believe exposure to literature and native speakers is the key element in any language and cultural study. UK universities would provide me with both of these vital elements and give me the opportunity to study the specific region of the Spanish speaking world I wish to pursue.
Outside studies, I tutored English to a variety of ages in Spain. Being exposed to a teacher's prospective has shown me where my own progress needs improvement. Teaching and learning a language relies on patience and a persistent passion for the subject.This summer I look forward to volunteering as an English tutor for adults in the Memphis area. My dream for my students is the same dream I have had for myself for the past ten years: the ability to laugh. The ability to laugh represents an overall understanding of language and of its people, and I have just begun to giggle.