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Master's Degree in Spanish Language and Literature, Korean Applicant

November 21, 2013

I was born in Korea, the first son of a young couple struggling to build a future for our family. My father was a rookie police officer who worked long, odd hours; I was happy to spend time with him once and a while. With what little free time he had, I remember my father reading and this inspired me, an enduring legacy from father to son. I soon began to read whatever was available, most well above my head, books, newspapers, anything I could get my little hands on, in English as well as Korean. By the time I was in elementary school, my efforts paid off, and I found myself winning writing contests. Little did I know at that time that I had yet to be introduced to my most enduring passion, Spanish; this would happen in Argentina.

 When I graduated from elementary school, I received a certificate for never having missed a single day of school for 6 years. It was at that moment that I began to reflect seriously about my passion for education. The daily strain of conflict and violence had begun to take a tool on my father. We were a politically conscious family and the threat of war has long loomed large on the Korean peninsula, as it still does today. My parents began thinking about escape, safety, a better world for their little ones. An opportunity soon presented itself through my uncle, who also longed to start a better life somewhere else. He left for Argentina with his family because someone his wife knew had offered him a job and a place to live. We stayed in touch, a year passed, and my family followed suit across the ocean to a new, unknown world, and a new language, the language in which I dream today; today, in fact, it is the language of my dreams.

 I am now 36 and it is time to follow my heart. I have been living in Miami for some time, learning the colors and styles of Spanish as it is spoken in immigrant America. I have focused on your MA Program in Spanish Language and Literature at the University of XXXX because it strikes me as especially progressive and creative since I am particularly interested in doing research in the areas of Spanish language insofar as it has been influenced by English, most notably in the production of Spanglish—a new language in which I am especially fluent. I seek a complete and sophisticated immersion in the study of the broad range of regionalisms (dialects and slangs), the study of the language of immigrants from a broad variety of Spanish speaking countries and the way that this is transforming the language and customs of urban America.

 My long term goal is to teach Spanish at the college level. I day dream of sitting in my office counseling students of all ethnic and linguist backgrounds who for one reason or another are studying Spanish. I believe that a good teacher must be compassionate and I am. I have long struggled to cultivate kindness as a personal quality. I joined a church group, for example, and we go every year to provide free dinners to homeless people on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have worked for a logistics company for the past three years in shipping, export and import. The experience has been valuable, since I have learned to be accurate and especially well organized, and I have had the opportunity to meet and deal with people from almost every conceivable ethnic and socio-economic background. meeting and dealing with people from different back ground. But I am bored. It is time to move on to a new destiny. It is time for me to return to my passion for education and to follow my heart into the quest for long-term fulfillment in life, my ultimate destiny, my dreams in Spanish, being loyal to that part of my soul that I left in Argentina so long ago: literature.

 My years in Miami have served me well. I have been able to observe and learn so much about Latino society and culture in the USA. Having myself grown up in 3 different countries, I am able to bond easily with ethnic communities, I treasure diversity, and my curiosity to learn about the immigrant Latino experience in the US knows no bounds. I have also become acquainted with other Latin American countries, most notably spending significant periods in Nicaragua and Uruguay. I took the time to make friends, study the politics and economic structures. I came to know both of these countries from the inside out, not just from the outside as a tourist. Nicaragua, the heat, the poverty, the smiles, has been an especially inspiring experience.

 When we arrived in Argentina, I knew virtually no Spanish and there were no language programs for foreigners; but I caught on in a couple of months. My parents started a new business of which I was communications director, filing permits, paying bills, we adapted. By the time I was in high school, Spanish was my favorite class and I excelled in my own special way. By the time that I began college in the US, in a language which I felt that I learned all alone so long ago, I had become convinced that, in fact, I had developed my very own system for language learning and adaptation. English came easily, learning what I had forgotten; living language makes it accessible.

 I now want to devote my life to learning Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, among other dialects, vocabularies, expressions, slang used by Hispanics in the USA.  I want to study how our society has created Spanglish, regional differences. I have prepared myself for this course of study by spending years playing very close attention to my Hispanic co-workers, characteristics, dreams, identities, special challenges and virtues.

 I have worked with the Berlitz Language School, teaching Spanish. I have been trained in a variety of methods; I am skilled at teaching students through the use of gestures, pictures, repetition of words and phrases, teaching students as if they were children. I have learned that these methods are much more effective for learning how to speak on the street; and, of course, that they have most limited value in terms of learning to write well, especially with respect to grammar. After graduate school, I dream of developing new methods of language that mix traditional methods with the strengths of the Berlitz system while at the same time taking advantage of Computer Assisted Language Learning. I would like to contribute to making Spanish language instruction a more practical art form that takes full advantage of the power of cultural symbols and resources—an eclectic mix of computer generated resources with the old fashioned intrigue of human interaction, a hybrid mix of classic and contemporary language with the draw of street theater, reaggaeton, the music of life. I look forward to studying how Spanish is taught to foreigners in places like Mexico and Costa Rica. In short, I look forward to spending the rest of my life studying Spanish so that I can teach it to others, and do so in increasingly creative ways.

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