Oklahoma Baptist University

Spanish Education Grads Invest Overseas

Recent OBU graduates Thomas Mosley and Andrea Gates are serving overseas as North American Language and Culture Assistants for the 2010-11 academic year. Both Mosley and Gates earned bachelor's degrees in Spanish in May 2010, and they are the first OBU grads to take part in this particular education program.

The North American Language and Culture Assistant Program focuses on the development of students' firsthand learning experience in Spain by bringing in North American teachers who speak English as a first language. The program simultaneously provides the teachers with experience interacting with the culture and language of Spain through immersion.

OBU graduate Thomas Mosley (left) eats a meal with the Ochoa family in Bilbao, Spain. Tony Ochoa serves as a Christian pastor in the city where Mosley is serving as a North American Language and Culture Assistant.

"I've been reviewing my Spanish and pouring over books about Spain and the Basque Country," said Mosley. "I also made contact with a pastor who lives in Bilbao where I'll be living."

Mosley plans on investing in the pastor's small church while in Spain, as well as finding extra places to teach English outside of his job as an English teaching assistant to junior high-age students in Bilbao.

"I am glad that I'll be able to connect with the body of Christ across the world," he said. "I think it will make for a much smoother transition."

Mosley has several reasons for choosing the North American Language and Culture Assistant Program as his post-graduation endeavor.

"On the practical end, I thought that it would be a good idea to improve my second language and get some teaching experience, thereby opening up more career possibilities," he said. "On the other, I'm excited about living in Europe and soaking up Spanish culture!"

Gates recently arrived in Spain and will begin her assignment soon.

"I will be teaching in an elementary school in A Rúa," Gates said. "It is a small town of about 5,000 people in the province of Ourense, which is in the region of Galicia."

She will be teaching English to young students and spending her free time immersing herself into the culture.

"I plan to do as much traveling as possible, throughout Spain and Europe," Gates said. "This is my first time in Europe and I hope to make the most of this opportunity. I know that I will be teaching but I also see this as an open door to learn new languages and learn other cultures. I've always dreamed of traveling to Europe, so 8 months teaching here is beyond anything I could have imagined."

Andrea Gates

Leah Dumey

Other recent Spanish major graduates who have served overseas after graduating from OBU include December 2008 grad Leah Dumey, who taught in Russia for a year; May 2008 grad Caroline Fisher, who served in Portugal for two years with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board; and 2006 grad Kim Simpson, who also worked with the IMB.

Dumey lived in Moscow for a year, where she taught English. Most of her time was spent with the second grade in a small K-12 private school, but she also worked with third- and fifth-grade students. She taught an adult English-as-a-Second-Language class once a week.

"Making the decision to go to Russia wasn't an easy one, but I couldn't pass up this opportunity," Dumey said. "I was excited for an adventure, and I felt like the Lord would use me in Moscow. It was difficult to leave my family and friends here and everything that was familiar, but I was ready for something new and different."

Dumey said one of the most difficult parts of preparing for the year-long trip was packing for the brutal Russian winter. However, she felt prepared for the teaching aspect, and her OBU education did not disappoint her or her students.

"I learned in all of my education classes that to be an effective teacher, it is important to be flexible, and I think this was so important to me as a first year teacher, but also for anyone living overseas," Dumey said.

For more information on the North American Language and Culture Assistant Program, click here.