Q: Where are you from?
A: Lillburn, GA
Q: What brought you to UGA?
A: I saw how great it was by my friends. For graduate school, I decided to stay because of wonderful professors and opportunities here.
Q: What are your research interests?
A: I research eco-critical, de- and post-colonial theory. I would like to investigate representation of the environment in Nahuatl literature as well as indigenous activism in central Mexico.
Q: Why did you choose to do your research in Latin American countries?
A: I think I chose to research in Latin America because of a combination of things that led me to research in Latin America. Firstly, I have a long-term enjoyment of studying the Spanish language. I have several personal relationship with people from Latin America. Also, I loved the history and Spanish language classes at UGA.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Latin America?
A: Every time I go I have an adventure and meet wonderful people who are open to sharing their language, culture, and home with me.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to an undergraduate student?
A: Remember that the opportunity to learn and explore things is very special. I tell my students to enjoy learning and not to get too stressed out by the little details. If an opportunity presents itself, go for it!
Q: What led you to be interested in Nahuatl?
A: It all started in Dr.Whigham’s colonial Latin American history class, we read a book called “The Broken Spheres”. Dr.Whigham and LASCI helped me get the Summer Research Grant in 2009 to travel to Mexico, do some research and take Nahuatl language lessons.
Q: What is something most people do not know about Nahuatl?
A: There are around 2 million Nahuatl speakers today. Their language, culture and traditions are very much alive. Nahuatl is not part of the pre-Columbian past.
Q: Why is it important to learn Nahuatl?
A: I am drawn to it because it was the first codified language after the arrival of the Europeans. By studying Nahuatl literature, we have a great record overtime of the voices of some of the first indigenous people to encounter western culture. Nahuatl, like all other languages, has beauty and a distinct way of expressing and viewing the world. By learning any language, you can open yourself up to new ways of thinking and understanding ourselves and others.
Q: What can you get out of learning Nahuatl?
A: It is a way to learn about a new culture and meet and make connections with people. Particularly because Nahuatl has a beautiful way of expressing call di-phrase. This is when you refer to two concepts at once. For example, if you say eye/face (in ixtli) and heart (in yollotl), this refers to a person. If you say water (in atl) and hill (in tepetl), this means city. Eagle (in cuauhtli) and jaguar (in oceloti) means warrior. Learning Nahuatl is fun and makes you think about poetics you can find in language.
Q: What are the top reasons students should attend the table?
- There is study in a collaborative environment with friends
- Lots of really exciting projects coming up like we are inviting a professor to speak
- We are going to start Skype lessons with native speakers as well.
Q: How do you say hello?
A: “Pialli” is hello. Thank you is “tlazocamati”
Q: Where is your favorite place in the world and why
A: Multnonmah Falls, Oregon because it is breathtakingly beautiful, you can feel the power of the waterfall and I have really good memories there
Q: Describe your favorite meal that you’ve had in Latin America (bring a recipe if possible)
A: Leche Cortada. I had it on a farm in the Dominican Republic. It was made from a cow that was milked a couple hours before. They used lime juice fresh from the tree and sugar to cut the milk. It’s a great desert!
Q: What countries have you visited in Latin America and for how long?
A: I first visited Manuel Antonio for a month in Costa Rica. Then, thanks to LACSI, I went to Mexico City for 5 weeks. I have been to the Dominican Republic three times for 2 weeks each time, twice for vacation and once with a UGA student organization to help with a Peace Corps program. I have also spent 7 weeks at the UGA Costa Rica campus.
Q: What do you like best about teaching/teaching at UGA?
A: I love learning things together with my students. I am really happy when my students get excited to learn more about something.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: I really like going on long walks with my dog and I love to kayak.
Q: If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?
A: “How Do I Get You Alone”, the version by Celine Dion
Q: If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why, alternatively what would the title be?
A: It would be a cartoon because people often tell me I should be a cartoon character.
Q: What is your favorite place in Athens?
A: I love kayaking on the Broad River
Q: Any last remarks?
A: I want to thank to LASCI for support and invite anyone to join the conversation table on Mondays at 2:30!