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Languages at UW-Madison

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Michelle E.

Major(s) and Certificate(s) 

Portuguese (MA)

Graduation Year 
Current city 
Current state/province/country (if outside US) 
What have you done since graduating from UW-Madison? 

I worked as an International Student and Faculty Advisor, which required a Master's Degree in another language or cultural focus. I then went to law school and worked as an immigration lawyer for several years. Currently, I am a pastor serving a church with many immigrant neighbors and a large multicultural daycare. I ministered to Western African immigrants at the former church I served and did some Portuguese-English translation work for a company to supplement my income.

What motivated you to study this/these languages? 

Living in Brazil as an exchange student in high school and college.

How have these languages enriched your life? 

Being able to speak and think in another language and living in Brazil has been a tremendous help in working with people from other countries. I believe I have more empathy for people living in the US from other countries because I know another language and have lived abroad. Not only did my intellect grow and deepen, my heart was opened to the foreigners in our midst.

What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took? 

The graduate level Portuguese classes took away all fear in studying another language. I had no fears or trouble learning Greek in seminary even though the two languages are unrelated.

How have you maintained or improved your language(s) since graduation?  

Speaking with friends, listening to music, Skyping with friends in Brazil.

What advice do you have for current language students? 

Spend some time studying abroad to improve your language skills and open your eyes.

What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know? 

Saudade—translates to something similar to "nostalgic yearnings"