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Spanish Department student involvement grows

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Dani Tanner, Carissa Becker, Paige Fox and Kathy Kuennen practice their Spanish speaking skills with each other at there weekly Spanish club meeting. — Emily Novotny/ TRUMPET

Enrollment in the Spanish major and minor has increased 50 percent in the last four years Zak Montgomery, instructor in Spanish said.

Edith Waldstein, vice president for enrollment management, said that 21 Wartburg students are majoring in Spanish, up from 11 majors in 2008.

“The professors in the department work very hard, and it is obvious that they enjoy their jobs,” Danielle Tanner, a biology and Spanish double-major, said.

“I think this really helps to influence students who take Spanish because they realize that Spanish at a college level is much different and more interesting than it was in high school.”

Montgomery attributes recent growth in the department to new additions like the Costa Rican study abroad program as well as the ever-increasing need for Spanish in the professional world. Spanish minors are constantly being added, most commonly for those entering the medical field.

“It is now widely recognized that some ability to speak Spanish in the professional world is a must,” Thomas Boerigter, associate professor of Spanish, said. “In other words, if you don’t speak any Spanish, you start your career after college with a deficit.”

“I interned at a clinic in Denver this May where a large portion of their job applicants were not even considered due to the fact that they were unable to speak Spanish,” Tanner said.

The Costa Rican study abroad program also offers the opportunity for biology majors to intern with a Costa Rican hospital, acquiring 200 hours for credit.

Wartburg students also exercise their Spanish by tutoring students from area schools including Waverly-Shell Rock and Cedar Valley Catholic Schools.

“The spirited nature of the students has really driven a lot of interest on campus,” Montgomery said.

In particular, Montgomery’s “Latinos in the United States” class tutors Spanish-speaking sixth graders learning English from Carver Academy in Waterloo. While connecting with Carver, Montgomery discovered that the Ballet Folklorico would be performing at Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on Oct. 11.

Montgomery said he thought the ballet would be a good opportunity for both the Wartburg and Carver students to experience together. After contacting Gallagher-Bluedorn, Montgomery received tickets for all 43 students at no cost, courtesy of the John Deere Foundation.

“We can use this as a community-building exercise, because my students are working one-on-one with their students in partnerships throughout the semester every Thursday morning,” Montgomery said. “We’re trying to build community and provide a rich cultural opportunity.”

Wartburg’s Spanish club has also seen growth in recent years. In addition to events like Latin dance nights with the Mue’velo Wartburg dance club, members also tutor children from Irving Elementary in Waterloo who speak English as a second language.

“The need for Spanish speakers in the working world is only going to increase,” Tanner, co-president of the Spanish club, said. “The faculty is very willing to work with students of all majors to make the extra minor or major fit into an already busy schedule.”

The club coordinates Spanish tables as well, a place for Spanish speakers of all levels to practice their speech with other Spanish speakers. Spanish tables meet Thursday nights from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Den.

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