“A different language is a different vision of life.”
Learning a second language means learning to know another culture from the inside. It comes with a lot of practice and is a continuing adventure that can changes one’s outlook on life. Being bilingual opens the door to effective communication with people throughout our vast world.
Here at the University of Portland, a group that encourages and celebrates being bilingual is Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish Honors Society.
Sigma Delta Pi was originally founded in 1919 at UC Berkeley. The group's purpose is to “honor those who attain excellence in the study of the Spanish language and in the study of the literature and culture of the Spanish-speaking peoples and to encourage college students to acquire a greater interest in, and a deeper understanding of, Hispanic culture.” Many of the society's members are Hispanic or Latino, but the majority are non-Hispanic students studying Spanish.
On Nov.10, 2016, University of Portland Sigma Delta Pi held an initiation ceremony for all of the new members. A total of 21 students were inducted — the largest group since 1962! What an achievement.
This year the chapter officers included: Estefania Morales (President), Joseph Rojo (Vice-President) and myself, Amanda Perez (Secretary), led by our faculty advisor, Dr. Reyes. At our first board meeting of the semester, we discussed our goals for the year: to expand the group, become more active and start building a legacy. We realized that one of the most effective ways to communicate with college age students is via social media so we started a Facebook page (go give it a like!). This helps spread information about the group while reaching a wide range of students. Additionally, we each went into the Spanish classes inviting students to join.
Estefania, Joseph and I are all Latinos who grew up with Spanish as our first language. One thing we all strongly identify with is the language and Hispanic culture. We want to help spread our passion with other students and create a space to explore it with others who hold the same fire in their hearts as we do for the language.
Although we are all in different stages of our language journey, Sigma Delta Pi provides a supportive group in which we can push and help each other grow, learn and work towards our individual language goals.
I am a Political Science and Spanish double major. I love learning more about the language and different cultures. In my case, being bilingual also means being bicultural. My father is from Argentina and while my mother was born in Los Angeles, Calif. her parents are from Ecuador and Costa Rica. I speak Spanish with my family back home, so joining a group of excited Spanish speakers through Sigma Delta Pi brings a piece of home to the bluff.
For more information on Sigma Delta Pi or if you ever want to chat with someone in Spanish, feel free to contact me via email.
Amanda Perez is a junior political science and Spanish major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.