Two students from Oaxaca, Mexico, recently spent three weeks on campus under a new partnership announced this past spring between Lynchburg College and the Universidad Autonoma Benito Juarez de Oaxaca (UABJO), a public university in Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico.
While here, Maria Jose Villalobos Sanchez and Denisse Concepcion Rios met numerous members of the Lynchburg College community, among them Endasia Mitchell ’19 and Holly Peterson ’20, both of whom are studying Spanish at Lynchburg. “We hung out a lot and I really liked them,” Mitchell said.
On June 29, Mitchell and Peterson will head to Oaxaca for a month-long visit of their own.
While in Oaxaca, they will take two classes for Lynchburg College credit at the partner university, which also provided full scholarships for the students. Mitchell, a double major in criminology and Spanish with a minor in Latin American studies, will take classes on the culture and civilization of Mexico and U.S./Mexico relations. She’ll also practice her language skills.
“I hope to practice my conversation in Spanish because that’s different than the Spanish classes I’ve taken since middle school,” Mitchell, of Perry Hall, Maryland, said, adding, “They’re probably going to talk too fast and use slang words that I don’t know. I’m going to be lost, but hopefully not too lost.”
Mitchell’s goal after graduation is to work in law enforcement. “I’m thinking Interpol, because that’s international, or the U.S. Marshals, because both of those involve traveling a lot, because that’s something I want to do,” she said. “Maybe the Drug Enforcement Administration. That’s still on my radar.”
Peterson, an English and Spanish double major with a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language, will take classes in literature and advanced conversation. “Improving my Spanish skills, that’s my number-one goal,” Peterson, of Monroe, Virginia, said.
After college, Peterson said she’s considering the Peace Corps, although probably not in a Spanish-speaking country. She’s thinking about teaching English in Eastern Europe, possibly in Moldova or Kosovo. “I’m interested in the language-learning opportunity there because Spanish is a romance language and [this would be] getting into the more Slavic languages, and that would lead to other opportunities as well,” she said.
While in Oaxaca, Mitchell and Peterson will stay with host families. They also plan to do some sightseeing. Mitchell said the university hosts weekend outings and she imagines their host families will show them around as well. “Apparently, there’s a really pretty waterfall that’s not too far away and that’s a ‘gotta go,’” she said.
Oaxaca also has a rich cultural and architectural history. “I know there is cool, colonial architecture in the city and ruins and indigenous buildings nearby, so I’ll definitely do some of those things,” Peterson said. “It looks amazing.”