From SPAP Major to the Brazilian Embassy

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On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, the Brazilian Embassy hosted a celebration of the International Day of the Portuguese Language (Dia Internacional da Lingua Portuguesa). The invitees included ambassadors and selected diplomats from all of the Portuguese-speaking countries, as well as a panel comprised of Portuguese professors from five universities and other institutions including Johns Hopkins and Brown, as well as the World Bank and the Foreign Affairs School. SPAP’s own Dr. Regina Igel, Professor of Portuguese at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Maryland, attended and participated in the event as a moderator and organizer of this diverse teaching panel. Guests enjoyed an exquisite selection of food from each of the different Lusophone countries at the after-party.

A former undergraduate student of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese was also in attendance at the event, Amanda Lawrence, who is now an experienced Spanish teacher at Clarksburg High School. Although she graduated with a BA in Spanish from UMD, Ms. Laurence also had the opportunity to take classes in the Portuguese language with Professor Igel. After teaching Spanish for a little over a decade, Clarksbury High School decided to introduce a pilot program for Portuguese in 2016. With her multilingual background, Ms. Laurence took on the challenge, and she is now in charge of the only Portuguese class offered in any MCPS school, and possibly in the whole state of Maryland.

Recently, the Minister of Education, Mendonça Filho, along with others from the Brazilian Embassy, visited Clarksburg High School. Ms. Laurence and her students gave them a tour of the school in Portuguese, and she was later invited to the Embassy to enjoy this special event. Below is her letter to Professor Igel.

 

Oi!  Boa tarde!

I met you (again) at the Brazilian Embassy last night and I didn’t get a chance to talk to you more, so I decided to email you!  My name is Amanda and you were my Portuguese teacher in college about 15 years ago!  I have been teaching Spanish for 11 years at Clarksburg High School in MCPS.  Last year, they decided to run a pilot program for Portuguese.  There was no one to teach it, and so in order for the class to run, I agreed to.  It is currently the only Portuguese class offered in any MCPS school and probably in the whole state of Maryland!

When I took Portuguese in your class, I fell in love with it.  I liked it more than Spanish, which was my major.  I have had to learn it all over again in order to teach it, which has been a lot of work, but also has been very gratifying work.  As I was relearning Portuguese, I could still hear your voice and your accent!  You were an excellent Professora and it’s amazing that taking your class so many years ago, opened up this door for me.

Recently, the Minister of Education, Mendonça Filho, along with others from the Brazilian Embassy, visited Clarksburg High School.  My Portuguese students and I gave them a tour of the school in Portuguese.  It was such a neat experience!  And again, being invited to the Embassy last night was just as amazing of an experience.  As I sat there listening to you, I felt like things had come full circle.  If someone told me 15 years ago in your class that one day I’d be sitting at the embassy listening to that panel, as a Portuguese teacher myself, I may not have believed it!  Haha! 

I hope you are well and wanted you to know that it was great to see you!

Sincerely,

Amanda Lawrence