Sophomore Isabel Salas never really felt connected to her Mexican roots growing up in North Carolina. Upon coming to UNC, she met professor Julia Mack in Spanish 266, a course specifically designed for native Spanish speakers.
Through Mack and her class, Salas became involved with the University’s diverse Latinx community and developed a love for a language that many native students are often discouraged from speaking in school growing up.
Mack had these goals in mind when she designed Spanish 266 and Spanish 326 almost ten years ago. Besides developing bilingual Spanish speakers' skills to a professional level, she wanted to give the students a supportive community that will help them grasp their identities.
“For this population, the experience of being Spanish has been difficult and somewhat strange,” Mack said. “They may have grown up in small-town North Carolina where speaking Spanish was not easy and they suppressed it. Then they get to UNC and discover that other people are trying to speak like them, and their identity blooms, but it blooms in confusion.”
Mack uses many methods to help her students connect to their culture. In one of Salas’ classes, Mack brought in desserts from her native country of Puerto Rico. Sophomore Jorge Monteagudo remembers going to Lenoir with Mack, where they discussed their Latinx cultures.