During most of the year, Dr. Per Fjelstad, assistant professor of communication at Texas A&M International University, is busy standing in front of the blackboard teaching students.
But this summer, he will travel to Guanajuato, Mexico, to become a student himself.
Dr. Fjelstad, part of a group of six TAMIU faculty members and alumni, will travel to Mexico June 6-July 6 to take intensive Spanish courses offered by the University of Guanajuato.
The Language Program for Faculty and Staff is a four-week intensive program designed for those interested in learning Spanish. Those participating in the program this year are Dr. Jeffrey Cornelius-White, assistant professor of psychology; Dr. Cecily Cornelius-White, assistant professor of psychology; Dr. William Riggs, assistant professor of social sciences; Karen Henderson, adjunct faculty with the Department of Psychology and Sociology; and Leslie Croyle, alumna.
The program consists of language instruction including grammar, conversational Spanish, Mexican history, and Latin American Literature. All participants are hosted by their Mexican host families for the duration of their stay.
Fjelstad, who also speaks German, said he decided to participate in the program because he has always enjoyed learning a new language.
"As a teenager, I learned German because my family lived in Germany. When I learned it, it gave me a great feeling of accomplishment. When I came here (Laredo), it seemed like something obvious that I wanted to learn as much as I could the language that people spoke here," said Fjelstad, referring to Spanish.
Fjelstad said he also looks forward to interacting with his counterparts at the University of Guanajuato.
"It would be nice to see if there are professors at that university who do similar kind of work that I do and see if any kind of a bridge can be built," Fjelstad said.
Jannet García, director of the Office for International Programs, said the summer Language Program offers TAMIU faculty members a greater working knowledge of the Spanish language while exploring a country rich in culture and history.
"Through this travel, they will get an opportunity to become fully immersed in the Mexican culture and gain a greater understanding of it. They will also obtain a hands-on perspective that can be shared with TAMIU students to explore how travel experiences can contribute to their education, in particular, as it relates to the relationship between Mexico and the United States," García said.
The University of Guanajuato, with which TAMIU has an agreement, was founded in 1732. Its Language School offers courses in English, French, German, Russian, Japanese, Italian, Greek, Latin and Spanish.
For further information, please contact García at 326-2566, e-mail email@example.com or visit offices located in the Student Center, 114N.
University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.