Yamada Language Center

Main Office

175 Mckenzie
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1236

Fall Hours (Sept 24 - Nov 30)

Mon-Thurs 8am–7pm
Fridays 8am–5pm

Thanksgiving Break (Nov 22–Nov 26)
Winter Break (Dec 10–Jan 7)
Closed to the public—please contact us with service requests.


Postal Address

1236 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1236

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By Monika Ruppe
Mon, 06/18/2018 - 07:02

In our interconnected world an interdisciplinary skill set is necessary. Language, of course, is one of the most important of those skills. And, if you see yourself working anywhere outside of the United States, or, increasingly, anywhere period, being multilingual not only sets you apart but opens doors that otherwise would be closed.

For Monika Ruppe (2017) that meant a self-initiated internship in Peru at the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. Read her story (she's in the middle of the photo) and picture yourself in her shoes, using your language skills, working, and socializing and helping make something that really matters to you come to life. Like a parade!

I was in Cusco, Peru for two and a half months as a volunteer for the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco helping them set up Tinkuy 2017: A Gathering of the Fiber Arts, a conference focused on textile artisans, particularly those of Indigenous origins. Most of my time was spent translating documents, ensuring all resources and presentations could be offered in both English and Spanish for our multilingual crowd. The event itself though only lasting four days drew from all over Peru and the world, with people in attendance from as far as Laos and India, as well as representatives from Indigenous communities of Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, and even the Navajo Nation in the United States. It was a cacophony of language and culture, where various dialects of Quechua mixed among languages of the Maya and the Amazons, and traditional clothing of a Navajo woman could be seen along that side of the neatly pressed suit of Mercedes Aráos, the Second Vice President and Prime Minister of Peru, who on a whim came to witness this gathering for herself. All that work, those two and a half months spent working up to this day and though I enjoyed every minute of it, even when I was being rushed from one place to another as one of the few fully bilingual volunteers they had, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness. My days in Peru ended shortly after the conference did, and all I could think was “I have so much more to learn.”

And though I’m now back in Oregon wondering where I’ll go next, I can’t help but smile knowing that one trip to one place opened the world to me. They say when you travel alone is when you’re least alone and I witnessed the truth of that first hand. And I think back to a moment early in my trip, it was tourism week and Señora Nilda had insisted we were all going to be in the parade in the central square. Somehow I wound up dressed in a traditional outfit from Chinchero, laughing with my friend from Uruguay as some women fussed about us braiding our hair and adjusting our jackets, women I’d never spoken to before then but now dressed in their traditional clothing we were best of friends. After the parade was over and I let my pageant smile have a rest one of my coworkers turned to me smiling and said quite simply, “you’re a Chinchera now.” And though it’ll probably be awhile before my wanderings lead me back to Peru I know I’ll always have a home in Cusco and a place in Chinchero.

No  matter where you see yourself in the future, there may be a dream-fulfilling language or study abroad program at the UO that will help you get there. See for more information on all of the second language possibilities at UO.