Why I Teach – Dr. Javier Arias

This installment of “Why I Teach” comes from Dr. Javier Arias, Spanish teacher. A Valor teacher since 2018, Dr. Arias spent most of his life teaching and studying in Europe before arriving at Valor. 

¡Ánimo!

Most of my students are very familiar with this Spanish word. I use it every day in class as an encouragement that is roughly translated as ¨cheer up¨ or ¨have courage¨. It comes from Latin ¨animus¨ and makes reference to the mind, the spirit, the soul, the will, etc. I like to use it because it summarizes every aspect of our human existence; a teacher has to be able to speak into all of these fields or at least aspire to connect with the students through them.

Being a Spanish teacher at Valor since 2018 has been a real blessing. I never suspected I would be teaching in the United States in a strong Christian environment when studying for my degree in my hometown of Salamanca, Spain. It bothered me every time one of my professors insisted on the importance of reading a book in its original English; my plan was to escape from the English language because I was very proud and my skills were poor.

In fleeing from the Atlantic Ocean, I fell towards the Mediterranean Sea by accepting a full scholarship to study for a Doctorate in Bologna, Italy. God provided an incredible mentor for those years who stimulated my intellectual curiosity and gave of his time and knowledge generously. At the end of my Italian journey, I was ready to do likewise wherever God wanted me. I ended up back in my home city of Salamanca where I taught a variety of courses at a Catholic High School. I learned and grew a lot during those ten years, and the family spirit I experienced there has found its natural continuation in the Valor corridors, offices, and classrooms.

My wife entered my life during that time in Salamanca and changed everything for the better. The Lord sent her from Colorado to Salamanca to study Spanish, and we met in an 800-year-old church. Since then, we have journeyed together to rediscover the wonder of our faith and its importance to our family. God has blessed us with children who continuously remind me that humility is essential in any teaching-learning process.

Teaching in the World Languages Department gives me the immense privilege of entering into the classrooms to joyfully share with my students my cultural, linguistic and spiritual identity. It is not a small task, but it is achievable because it is necessary. ¡Ánimo!

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