Abby McHenry

Florida Southern senior Emily Wainio-Oato’s passion for the Spanish language and culture blend perfectly with her Elementary Education and Spanish majors.  

In high school, Wainio-Oato’s Spanish II teacher set up a number of creative activities for her class to practice Spanish. Her instructor came to the United States from Puerto Rico and loved being able to share her culture.  This passion led Emily to continue studying Spanish at the college level.

Emily came into FSC with the intention of majoring in Elementary Education and minoring in Spanish, but within her first week at Florida Southern, a Spanish professor encouraged her to double major in it.

Wainio-Oato took two junior journey trips-both to Spanish speaking countries. Her first trip was the popular month-long Spain trip. Prior to the trip, she had four years of Spanish experience. 

“..[North America] is a really easy place to learn a lot of Latin American Spanish culture, which is often ingrained in the Spanish classes that we take here,” Wainio-Oato said.  “A lot of us expected to find Latin American culture when going to a Spanish speaking country, but the fact is that Spain is in Europe makes their culture very European.”

Wainio-Oato also attended the Costa Rica trip through the education department, with the purpose of visiting schools in the country to observe their teaching styles and help the students learn English.  Wainio-Oato did not have to speak Spanish on the trip, but she felt that it added to her experience

There is a strike going on in Costa Rica now, and although it was not as severe when Wainio-Oato was in the country, in the time leading up to the trip she saw many schools and government offices closed.  

Wainio-Oato enjoyed learning about teaching methods in Costa Rica, how certain schools were affected politically by the strike, and spending time with the children and helping them with English. 

She also currently works as a Spanish peer tutor in the Christoverson Humanities building. 

“I have utilized so many of my ‘teacher skills’ when working with students who come in for help in Spanish,” Wainio-Oato said.  

As she continues through her senior year, Wainio-Oato hopes to gain more experience interacting with others in Spanish as well as help other students further their skills through her tutoring.  


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