My time at Xavier has been one of growth, challenges and learning. I have had my ups and downs, but after four years and eight semesters, I think I made the right choice by coming to Xavier.
I graduated from high school in 2013 and came to Xavier as a Spanish major in the fall of that year. I have never changed my major. My placement test put me in Spanish 305 as a first-year. I finished almost all of the core curriculum in my first five semesters, taking one or two Spanish classes a semester. At this point, I’ve taken more than enough Spanish classes for the major. I’ve also taken several French literature classes, where I’ve made some of my best friends at Xavier. I was an undergraduate research assistant to Dr. Mantero in summer of 2016 and I co-translated a book of poems by a Baja Californian author with him. I wrote my thesis in fall of 2016, on a Mexican science fiction novel.
By far the best experience I’ve had at Xavier was the Nicaragua Solidarity Semester. Since 1995-96, Xavier has sent students to live with families in Barrio La Luz in Managua, Nicaragua. All of these families face economic challenges. I lived with a family of six headed by Marcia, a single mother. The other family members were doña Juanita, Marcia’s mother; doña Mayra, Marcia’s elder sister; Mario, Marcia’s son; Angie, Mario’s wife; and Daniela, Marcia’s daughter.
I studied with seven other Xavier students, with classes in Nicaraguan history, liberation theology, liberation psychology, Spanish and a service/culture class. Two days a week, we worked at a non-governmental organization offering social services, — in my case, the Centro Cultural de Batahola Norte, where I helped facilitate a teenagers’ reading club in Spanish and an English conversation group.
I believe that we all came to see ourselves as members of the community and were loath to leave at the end. I returned, however, with a new sense of purpose that helped me clarify my goals for what should be my last semester at Xavier. I plan to study liberatory education and second language acquisition with Dr. Hodgson in order to become an ESL teacher.
I will never forget the people who touched my life in Nicaragua: Marcia’s family; other people from Barrio La Luz, especially Kenia Castro and her family; my local Teaching English as a Foreign Language classmates from Nicaraguan history class; and my coworkers at Batahola Norte.
At Xavier, I have found many friends in my classmates and mentors among my professors, such as Dr. José María Mantero, Dr. Ceo-DiFrancesco and Dr. Irene Hodgson. I am grateful to all these people. They have made me who I am as I prepare to leave Xavier.
By: Phillip Dunn ~Guest Writer~