Gary Hargett "69"
Life is full of ironies. I dedicated myself to learning Spanish in high school, and when I found out about Elbert Covell College, I said, this is my dream fulfilled. I can go there, improve my Spanish, make many bilingual friends from different countries and cultures, and find a career that will take me to Latin America. Two out of three isn't bad. I made many friendships at Covell and reaped the benefit of a bilingual and bicultural life and was forever enriched. But I didn't end up pursuing a career in a Spanish-speaking country as I hoped. (Well, the United States is starting to qualify as such. More on that later.) No, within months of graduating in 1969, I found myself serving in the military and was sent to Vietnam fin 1970 for a year during the war. At least I got to put into practice so much of what I learned from Dr. Decker and other Covell faculty. I was assigned to teach English to Vietnamese military personnel. Fifteen years later, I went back to Southeast Asia, this time to Thailand, where I worked for a year in the Southeast Asian refugee relocation project. I didn't get to speak much Spanish in Vietnam or Thailand. (I did speak a lot of French in Vietnam.) Other than several weeks of vacation at different times in Mexico and Spain, I've never spent time in a Spanish-speaking country.
However, Covell College did launch my career. After directing an adult ESL project in Idaho, and teaching ESL at Seattle Central Community College, I ultimately got a Master's degree in ESL from the University of Washington and went on to get a Ph.D. to pursue my interest in language proficiency testing. After various jobs, I became a self-employed consultant, helping public schools improve their ESL and bilingual education programs in the Portland, Oregon, area where I have lived since 1986. So now I get to speak a lot of Spanish in the schools, and I can assert confidently, the United States is a bilingual nation. I often conduct workshops where I draw upon what I learned at Covell. I consider myself a bilingual, bicultural person, and I have done so for over 40 years, gracias a mis experiencias en Elbert Covell College. Fuertes abrazos a todos,
Class of 1969