Very few students taught by Caslteton State College Teaching Assistant Evelin Gamarra teaches knew much about her life before she came to Vermont. Gamarra, 25, a graduate of the University of San Mart¡n in Per£, has been teaching classes at Caslteton since August. Gamarra applied to the Foreign Language Teaching Program (FLTA) and was selected out from a pool of five finalists to come a college in the United States to teach Spanish for a year.
Applicants had many reasons for applying, yet Gamarra’s reason was simple.
“I applied because I was already teaching and I really liked it,” said Gamarra with an enormous smile.
Gamarra also said that it took only one class for her to fall in love with her students.
“I really love my students. They want to learn my language and I am able to be abroad to show people my culture,” she said.
Joe Wissler, a sophmore in her Spanish II class, said Gamarra is a “one-of-a-kind teacher.”
“She’s a really good teacher, unlike most. She really gets to know the the students,” he said.
When asked about some of her most interesting thoughts about her students, Gamarra responded with a big smile and began excitedly talking with her hands — as many of her students note she is prone to do.
“One of my most interesting things was to see how the students respond to what I taught them. It is like somehow I made them like the language,” she said.
One of her students who likes the language is Kristy Isabelle, an 18-year-old freshman. Isabelle said “when one person is struggling, she will work extra so that they can catch up, and its kind of cool because I have never had a teacher like that before.
“She’s always excited, and always smiling.”
Gamarra noted that participation is the key to her classes and she makes her students participate a lot because she knows they won’t be speaking Spanish outside of class.
As for her life in the Caslteton community, Gamarra says that everyone is nice and friendly to her.
“I met some really authentic people,” said Gamarra, who added that she’s been to the United States four other times and said everyone treated her like family.
But Gamarra’s reach extends beyond the college. She also teaches Spanish at an afterschool program at Poultney Elementary School and tutors students on the side for about 10 hours a week.
“I like the fact that she stays to help me on Fridays. That says a lot and it helps me improve and proves that she is dedicated to the students,” said Wissler.
And in addition to language, she is teaching her cultue to her students by teaching them traditional dances of Peru.
“Shes really pumped to do it,” said Isabelle. Wissler agreed saying “it was very interesting and I enjoyed it. I was really amazed that we were able to do it.”
While living in Vermont, Gamarra has also been able to learn a lot about the community and even enjoys a local, and now international treat, Ben and Jerry’s.
“If any of my students want extra points they can just bring me Phish Food or Triple Caramel Chunck,” said Gamarra with a wink and a smile. The extra point she says she gives to keep her students motivated, which in the end is what matters. Her students are always active in class, she said.
“Even if I am teaching them something they don’t know, they always ask. I really like that. I really like to see there faces after they understand what I teach,” said Gamarra.
The high energy level also helps many of her students.
“She makes me and the rest of the class energetic and it makes for a better class,” said Wissler.
As for the classes themsevles, Gamarra feels that students learn by having fun and being in a fun enviornment.
Gamarra feels that the Spanish department gave her a good enviornemnt to work in and feels that with the populatiry of the Spanish courses, the number of majors will increase.
In contrast to Castleton, Gamarra works and studies at the same time in Peru, the South American country where is from. She considers her life there a routine and feels her family is her energy. And even though she is not there her family is giving her energy here.
“My family means a lot to me. All that I am is because of them,” said Gamarra.
Gamarra comes from a family of lawyers and feels this year is a break for her because she studied hard for her degree.
“I couldn’t believe that when I heard it. I was thinking WOW it was amazing. I thought it was weird that she was in Vermont and at Caslteton out of all places,” said Isablle.
“I thought it was odd but it made for interesting conversations that she had such a diverse background. Most teachers are just teachers and she is a lawyer as well,” said Wissler.
Gamarra will soon return home and next fall two more teaching assistants will take her place.
“This is my first year having a teacher like Evelin and it has been a lot of fun,” said Isabelle. Many of Isabelle’s classmates also felt the same way.
“I wasn’t going to be a Spanish minor till I met Professor Gamarra. She made Spanish so much fun and for that I am inspiried by her,” said Wissler.
Overall, Gamarra said that she is very happy with her time here and she hopes the future TA’s will have just as good a time as she did.
“You don’t take the bad expierences. You take the good ones because they are worth more,” Gamarra said.