10 Questions with PUC’s New Modern Languages Professor

Professor Cristian Pancorbo began teaching at PUC this past winter, and already has had an impact on our community. I was able to spend a day with Cristian and got to hear how passionate he is about language and the PUC student body. To help introduce him to the rest of campus as well as prospective students, I asked him 10 questions about his experience here so far and his vision for PUC.

1. As a new member of the PUC family, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I really don’t know how to answer these kinds of questions, and most of the time I just talk about my hobbies, but I guess that’s not who I am. Right? So let me tell you about the things I love.

I love traveling and discovering places and people – I like to think there’s a unique kind of knowledge and growth to this. I like serving others on my trips, but just getting lost is excuse enough to fly for me. I love my niece, who lives in Montreal, but I try to see her every time I have a chance. She is just the best. I enjoy sports, but mainly it is a reason to be with people, doing something fun. I used to think I was good at basketball until I moved here and realized I’m not even good enough for intramurals. I almost forgot! Teaching is something I love, it gives me a rush nothing else does, and I truly believe it makes real big changes, or it should.

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Professor Pancorbo (bottom row, left) and his soccer intramurals team at PUC.

2. What made you decide to up and move to a new country?

I have been attached to the U.S. in many different ways since I was 16-years-old. I have been invited by some of my U.S. friends since 18. I also have been teaching students from here since I started working. I wasn’t looking for a job opportunity or a way to move to a different country, but I want to think God opened this path in for me, and I’m committed to go where he takes me. I have to say, although I have loved ones in Spain, I have always felt comfortable with the idea of moving around wherever I should go. Nobody was too surprised when I said I was moving to the U.S. Nonetheless, It wasn’t an easy decision, since I had a job and colleagues I simply loved. ACA Spain (ESDES), where I was working, has the most loving teachers one could find.

3. What was your first impression of PUC?

I came for the job interview around Christmas (2013) and that was my first time at PUC. I knew the west coast more or less and I had been to the south of California many times, but I never drove further north of Yosemite; I instantly liked it. It’s the most beautiful campus I have ever been to, but nothing new about that, right? This place is wonderful and the lifestyle you can have here is just great – full of knowledge, beauty, sports, arts, nature, great weather, great people and so much more.

4. So far, what is your favorite thing about PUC?

The best thing about PUC is the student body. You guys [students] are great and make me enjoy this place so much. I think I talk on behalf of all the teachers when I say you are the reason why we do this and love it. I also like other things we have here like the spiritual life, the idea of serving others visible almost everywhere.

5. Tell us your goals for the Modern Language Department.

I want students to open their minds to new horizons and perspectives – if possible by traveling overseas. I want the students to really engage in their challenge with a new language. I want my students to learn about making a big effort, loving it, or at least enjoying it. I want to find new ways for the students to practice Spanish in a fun way outside of formal classes. The goal has to be helping the students develop their skills with communication in a new language, critical thinking and serving others using Jesus as an example.

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Professor Pancorbo and students on a recent trip to PUC’s Albion Retreat and Learning Center.

6. Out of all your classes, which is your favorite to teach and why?

This is like asking a parent who his favorite child is – it’s not fair. But I’ll be open to you; I love my Medical Spanish class. It’s very practical and I see a lot of motivation in my students. They realize it is something really important for their careers. It is really fun to role-play with them and use the knowledge they already have in their field of study for the class.

7. What are some benefits to taking Spanish classes?

You can communicate with the huge amount of Spanish speakers you will find in the U.S. Not only that, you will increase your number of friends, your future “clients” and your opportunities. You will understand your neighbors a lot better and you will be able to travel and discover with bigger empathy for what you encounter. It is like having another “self” with all the opportunities that come with it. In the world we live in, there needs to be more understanding and real communication among individuals and nations. But seriously, it does. Don’t just agree with me. Go learn a language and travel, go overseas through Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA) for a year, or became a missionary. Do it. You can’t go wrong by learning Spanish, traveling or serving if you are holding to God.

8. How has knowing a second language benefited you personally?

Sometimes, I think learning English has impacted me wider and deeper in my life than having my degree or my master’s. I was blessed with the best friends who invited me to come visit them and thanks to that, I actually started to speak the language. You can study a language your whole life, but if you don’t practice, it is like reading books about basketball expecting to get good at it, just by that. After I learned, I started to be blessed with scholarships and opportunities to live and travel in different places all around the world. I lived a great positive experience after another and I can see now they were coming from God.

I lived and studied in Krakow (Poland) with a full scholarship. I also went to Sydney (Australia) with another scholarship to perfect my English and I had some of the most amazing working and serving experiences in developing countries like Morocco, Honduras, Ethiopia… I’m now learning French here at PUC and it’s a experience you all should try. Professor Jehanno is a great, experienced teacher from Paris and her classes are so much fun.

9. What are some interesting or less thought of careers students can get with a Modern Language degree?

A minor or a major in Spanish is a great match for any future career you might be looking at. It would be hard to think of a career that couldn’t have a good use of a second language. I think every social worker, lawyer, doctor, psychologist, physical therapist, speech pathology… or any other professional who needs to understand their client/patient and their reality as an essential part of their job needs to know their language as a basic tool. Remember you are preparing yourself to be useful with the knowledge and skills you are developing during your college years. Make sure you are getting ready for what’s coming – don’t just get a degree, try to get the tools you will use.

Professor Pancorbo and Modern Languages Department friends.

10. What fun and interesting things are happening within the Modern Language Department students might like to know about?

The most exciting thing is we’ll be offering Beginning Portuguese for the first time in Winter 2016. The Brazil mission trip to the Amazon and Manaus during Spring Break is part of the class, which will count for GE credit(s). We also have a new Japanese professor, John Inada. He has developed his career in the video game industry successfully, also finding the time to teach with us. We are planning on showing movies (original versions) at our beautiful student lounge, and also share resources and updates through our Modern Languages Facebook page. Finally, we want to develop our service learning implication as a department and continue to grow our language for specific purpose classes, like Spanish for medical personnel, which is a high-demand class.

There are other interesting things happening with Adventist Colleges Abroad. They are always trying to improve and challenge themselves with their awesome work. One of their newest features are the internships you can do overseas in places like the United Nations, architecture firms, schools, music and art and so many more. With these internships you improve your abroad experience, your language skills, and your résumé. This adds another huge reason why you have to go to ACA (and they will transfer all your credits back to PUC, including the internship ones).

Editor’s note: If you would like more information about studying a language at PUC, you can talk with an Enrollment Counselor by calling 800.862.7080 option 2 or emailing enroll@puc.edu.

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