The Latin American and Iberian Studies (LAIS) Program is the oldest interdisciplinary program on campus. Drawing on a multitude of disciplines and perspectives from across our UC Santa Barbara, LAIS faculty and students examine the people and cultures of Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries and territories around the world — from Europe and Latin America to Africa and East Asia — as well as Chicanx, Latinx, and Puerto Rican communities in the US.
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Meet some of the graduate students your generous donations will support!
The motivation for my research topic and really to pursue a master's degree, came from my own experiences and observations as a Spanish heritage speaker studying in Spain (2015). As recent Census and college enrollment reports have found, the Chicanx/Latinx community is growing and their presence in higher education also reflects that. My own cohort was made up with a majority of Latinx students however other cohorts didn’t have similar representation. My research topic is based on motivations of Spanish heritage speakers to study abroad. Initial survey responses show that of my 158 participants 62% identify as Chicanx or Latino. Additionally, popular country destinations are Spain, Mexico and Chile- I was really surprised by this country! A curious observation is that only 23 participants were male - the topic of gender disparity and study abroad is a topic for future research. I am excited to move onto the interview phase and talk to the participants to gain deeper insight to their motivations. Did they have similar thoughts as me? Were there other reasons I hadn’t considered? And hopefully, how can we help heritage speakers or Latinx students go abroad. I’m especially interested to see what they are looking for in a program so staff and universities can help them pursue their goals. Too often the research focuses on why students don’t go and I wanted to focus on those who did.
Aside from reading articles and data this year, I’ve had the opportunity to teach Elementary Spanish as a foreign language. Initially I was uncertain that I would be able to teach so early on in addition to only speaking Spanish to novice learners on the first day. Teaching and sharing my language with students has been very joyful. To see how second language acquisition happens and to see the student’s progress is so cool. Teaching has definitely expanded my initial thoughts I had about myself as an educator and my potential.