A Letter to Students

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          My name is Rita Wirkala and I will be your instructor for this course. Spanish is my native language, since I was born in Argentina. In my twenties I moved to Brazil, where I lived for 13 years, raised a family and ran a business with my husband. In 1987 we moved to Seattle, where I became a college instructor.

           I received my doctoral degree in Spanish Medieval Literature from the University of Washington, and I specialized in ancient Middle Eastern stories, called "teaching-stories" which were transmitted to Europe through the eight centuries of Arab presence in Spain.

          Although I primarily teach the language, culture and literature, I also include social issues related to Latin America in my lessons. Because I lived through the most tragic years in the history of my country, and perhaps the most critical time in the economic history of Brazil as well, I have developed an acute awareness of the plight of developing countries, which I try to communicate to my students. This involves actual travel, and I have organized several study trips with students from different colleges, which combine the study of language, culture and community service in Guatemala, Perú and Argentina.

          My other personal interests are poetry, psychology, the environment, the effect of globalization on developing countries and other current events. You will find some of these interests reflected in the readings I have written or selected for the courses.

          My main concern, however, is to excel in my profession, which is to teach the Spanish language and culture in the rather challenging way presented by the Distance Learning course, Telecourse or Interactive TV. I want to make sure that my students know they can count on my help, guidance and flexibility, as well as my prompt availability.

          Therefore, please do not hesitate to contact me when you need. I can give you orientation regarding procedural matters, grammatical explanations or advice on how to succeed in these classes.

          My home-office phone number is (206) 368 2576; however, the best and most efficient way of communicating with me is via E-mail at this address:
ritaw@u.washington.edu

          If there is a lesson that I can pass on to you from my own experience, it is this: What will most lead you to success in this endeavor to learn a foreign language is motivation and patience. If you apply yourself, you will learn!

Updated 1/15/03 Contact: Rita Wirkala
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