By Matthew Johnson
For the next three years, Gardner-Webb will host Maria Del Huerto Corbalan, from Santiago Del Estero, Argentina, as a teacher’s assistant (TA) for the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures.
She graduated from Instuto San Jose with an English Degree. With this achievement, she will teach the Spanish Language to Gardner-Webb students and travel the States. It has always been a goal for her to visit the United States.
“I decided to be an English teacher because I met this amazing woman that taught me and she spoke well,” said Corbalan. “She was a great teacher.”
When she was in primary school, she decided she wanted to be an English teacher. This decision was made when her English teacher, Cristina Ghelf, moved her to a different class.
When Ghelf saw how much Corbalan wanted to learn, she sent her to an institute to study the English language in an advanced way. The Institute is where she fell in love with the English language; she has never forgotten Ghelf for sending her there, and she still talks to her about teaching.
Corbalan said that music was very influential to her learning. She would practice everything through music and she could get an understanding of how the words work.
Before Corbalan turned 15, which in Argentina is like the sweet 16 for a girl in America, she asked her father to take the money that would be spent for the party and put it towards a trip for her to come to America.
“Many girls there go on a cruise to Disney Land or Orlando,” stated Corbalan. “So, I was like that’s two weeks, and I don’t want that. I want to be an exchange student.”
When her father lost his job, Corbalan said it put a halt on her travel plans because the money was needed to take care of the family.
Everything that she was used to wearing and using was changed dramatically. The hard times helped her grow and learn that things happen and she needed to be prepared.
Ever since then, Corbalan kept her eyes set on traveling to the US, but as she grew older, Argentina fell further into debt. One dollar in America is ten peso’s in Argentina, which is a huge difference when planning a trip out of country.
She started saving but soon found out about the Fulbright scholarship through a good friend and knew it was her chance to come to America. The scholarship pays for her traveling and helps to find her a school to teach at. To get the scholarship, Corbalan had to take an exam and go through an interview process.
Corbalan enjoys Gardner-Webb because everything is quiet and calm compared to her home. There is a great change in population here from that of the city she comes from in Argentina. This allows her to enjoy traveling around campus without large crowds in her way.
“I like being able to walk on a side-walk and not have to zig-zag because there are so many people; which I have to do in Argentina” said Corbalan.
Though she loves it here, she still misses the food variety in Argentina. She loves the Italian food. That has a strong population in her home city. She also misses the beaches that she visited in Brazil; her favorite beach is Bombas beach. The water is so clear the bottom is visible all the way to the feet.
“Bombas Beaches are the quieter beaches. You have night life, beaches and everything,” said Corbalan.
While here, the TA’s plan to get a car and travel to other states. They have traveled to Asheville thus far and loved the city.
Corbalan plans to share her knowledge to students about her language and culture.