Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Fulbright Experience

José Gutiérrez at Philpott Lake near Ferrum.

By José Gutiérrez

Hi. I am José Gutiérrez. I am from Chetumal, Mexico. I am the fourth Fulbright Spanish Teaching Assistant (TA) in Ferrum. As part of the Fulbright program, around 400 teachers from all over the world come to the United States every year to teach their language as TAs. I hold a bachelor’s degree in English language and a master’s in Education, and I taught English in my hometown for two years before I came to the United States.

This exchange program was not only a great opportunity to refine my teaching skills but also to broaden my knowledge of American culture and customs. Precisely, the first-hand experiences I had last semester helped me to learn more about the culture. Thanks to television, movies and music, I had an idea of how big cities look like but I didn’t know much about the countryside. Last semester I attended some folk festivals in cities and towns like Salem, Martinsville and Greensboro, and I enjoyed the music, food, exhibitions, and crafts of the region, especially bluegrass music. I loved it! It was a semester full of first-time experiences: college football, Halloween, Thanksgiving, the fall, and lately the snow. And the cold, well, I am still working on that.

I also celebrated Día de Muertos and enjoyed the altars that students made as part of a contest. It was nice to see altars outside of my country. I have also encountered many Spanish speakers in Virginia and some neighbor states. It has not been really difficult to get authentic food from my region in Mexico, and I get to see how people have mixed their Latin American culture to the American one. Overall, this experience has made me appreciate more my culture.

Students at the Tertulia.
Last semester, I taught two sections of Spanish 101 and ran speaking workshops called “Tertulias”. Moreover, I took courses on American studies. This semester I will have more assistance duties and continue working on the “Tertulias”. I hope to have a great semester and to enjoy both the Spanish assistantship and the courses I will take.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Health and Human Performance Internship: Ferrum College Football

By Anthony Konieczka

January 22, 2017: This week was a long week for me. It started out with my regular duties for the internship like recruiting and helping with the weight room for the fitness aspect of coaching. I also got the chance to meet with Ferrum’s Athletic Director Abe Naff as he prepared me for the importance of the trip I was about to take to Nashville, TN, as a Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) representative for Ferrum College and the USA South Athletic Conference.

(L-R) Ferrum College seniors Anthony Konieczka and Jessica Turner attended the 2017 NCAA National Convention in Nashville. Also pictured are William Peace students Breanna Cary  and Tanner Brown.

Division III SAAC members with the Nashville Special Olympics.
The time I spent in Nashville for the NCAA National Convention showed me the world that coaches and AD’s live in. It gave me a glance at the broad world that is collegiate sports and how everything gets done. I always thought that we play with these guidelines just because that’s how the coach felt, but it is so much more than that. I got to sit and listen to legislation, and give my opinion on it as a part of the SAAC, that would allow a D3 coach recruit D1 and D2 graduate prospects which could have impacted the collegiate atmosphere. I gave my opinion on the new recommendations for football practice and official times and ways we can practice that were put out by the Sports Science Institute. I argued against and for different policies and proposals. I was able to attend a sexual violence prevention within collegiate sports forum, which gave me insight on how to approach this problem if I were to ever face it as a coach.

Anthony Konieczka with Rich, a participant
of the Special Olympics of Nashville. 
The best part of the trip was the experience of a lifetime, being able to participate in and help coach the Special Olympics event for the Division III conventions partnership with Unified Sports Experience, the Nashville Special Olympics. It was the best opportunity I have ever had to give back within the world of athletics. I have been able to help build houses for the needy, collect canned goods, collect pennies for a purpose, read to kids, but to see the brightest smiles that beamed from the faces of these individuals was something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. It was such a huge impact that I will be pushing for an event with the Roanoke Special Olympics every semester.

I also got to network, I picked up names, numbers, and emails for Athletics directors, Faculty Athletic Representatives, Coaches, NCAA presidents, and even the NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations. This networking will hopefully land me a job somewhere. I was tasked with bringing back information and ideas for improvement for our school. I have accomplished that and will be meeting with our SAAC and AD’s to see where we can take this thing.

I truly enjoyed my time in Nashville meeting other SAAC members and being a part of this highly important convention.