Remember me? I was one of the quiet ones at Covell. I entered Covell with just 3 years of high school Spanish, and, after sitting through my first day of classes, I felt that my bilingual skills were totally inadequate to the task ahead. I remember looking over my choppy, disjointed notes from Dr. Robinson's Geografia class with dismay and thinking,"What am I doing here?" But, with the help of my study buddies, Celeste Mello and Connie Lingel, I persevered. Perhaps you noticed that I seldom opened my mouth in class or joined in some of the animated discussions in El Centro. My Discursos class gave me full-fledged panic attacks. But again I found help from another Coveliano, Jorge Escobar, who coached me through each and every speech I had to deliver in class.
By the time I graduated in June, 1972, I had enough confidence in my bilingual skills to apply for a USIS Teaching Fellowship in South America. I was awarded a one-year fellowship and soon found myself enroute to Temuco, Chile. Ah, yes, my Spanish skills had greatly improved during my four years at Covell, but apparently I had not paid enough attention in my Ciencias Politicas and Gobiernos classes, because I arrived in Chile in 1973 totally unaware of the political turmoil going on there under Salvador Allende's administration. It was quite an adventure to be one of a very few Americans living in southern Chile at that time. I participated in pot-banging street protests, had to evacuate the instituto where I worked several times because of bomb scares, and spent a harrowing night with armed students from the Universidad Catolica who fully expected us to be attacked by leftists.
I survived my year in Temuco, and traveled on to Paraguay in 1974 to reunite with my Coveliano boyfriend, Jorge. We married and have spent the last 36 years correcting each others' English/Spanish and continuing the intercultural experience we initiated at Covell. Jorge used the bilingual and intercultural skills he honed at Covell to work for Bank of America's Latin American Division for several years. His job took us to Guatemala for a year and Venezuela for two years. He still works for B of A as a Compliance Officer.
I have been true to my ESL major (I did pay attention in Dr. Decker's classes!) and have taught ESL to college-bound foreign students and adult immigrants in the Fresno and Sacramento areas for many years. I also taught high school Spanish for seven years before retiring from K-12 education. My intercultural background and training has made me sensitive to the needs of the immigrants I teach, and I am a tireless advocate for Mexican and other Latin American immigrants who have been so unfairly scapegoated for all the ills of our society in the last few years.
Although I was quiet and always kind of on the outskirts of life at Covell, my experience there has had a profound effect on my life and my career. I'm so glad I took that leap of faith and joined an odd, little Spanish-speaking cluster-college in Stockton instead of choosing a more traditional institution of higher education! Hope to see you all at the reunion!
Susan (Maschewski) Escobar
8148 Finmere Way
Sacramento, CA 95829
Birth date: 1/10/1950